Search This Blog

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Caramelized Balsalmic Onions & Peppers

The process of caramelization.. slow and sweet, slow and sweet.  And did I mention worth it?  When I worked as an apprentice to a french chef.. we would start onions for soup in the morning like this  and let them caramelize long and slow most of the day.  That was probably the best soup I ever had. Those onions would be stirred into a rich beef broth, with a splash of brandy, crusty french rustic toast and topped with a perfect combination of fontina, gruyere & provolone. Mmm.  Perfection.  
But were not making soup today and I promise, this won't take all day.   Today we are making the perfect side of syrupy balsamic caramelized onions that, yes, do take time, but go well with a variety of dishes.  They are great to make ahead and top grilled steak, pork tenderloin or chops, pizza, baked brie and even as-is for a nice bruschetta.  It's that good.  
Peppers and garlic are optional.. but to accompany steak, I'm gonna say.. they are a must.  Having this on hand will instantly transform simple-easy meals into something really special.  Make this dish when you have a couple of hours and a closet to clean, or laundry to do.. it does not need constant minding but will take the better part of 2 hours or so.

Caramelized Balsalmic Onions & Peppers

A note on onion selection.. Sweet onions will render a sweeter finish and I really prefer a mix of sweet and red.  Red onions hold their structure better when cooking for a long time.  Which means in the end product you can recognize an onion, I kinda like that...  while the sweet onions really are the ones that caramelize best and make a better tasting finish. So, I suggest using both. I also add the peppers quite a bit later as I don't like it when they disintegrate into unrecognizable mush.

Caramelized Balsalmic Onions & Peppers

2 T. Olive Oil
4 lg. onions (sweet & red), sliced 1/2" thick
1 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. cracked pepper
1 red pepper, sliced 1/2" thick
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/3 c. balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. chicken broth (low sodium) 

In a large bottomed pan (I prefer cast-iron), heat olive oil over med heat... add onions, season with S+P and cook for 10 minutes. 
Add pepper, cook another 10 minutes.  
Add garlic, cook 2-3 minutes.  
Add  balsalmic and chicken broth.  Turn heat down to a low and let simmer, stirring occasionally for a minimum of 20 minutes and up to an hour. 

*When done, taste for balance. Depending on the variety of onions and brand of balsamic used...  can render a sweeter or not-sweet-enough finished product.  Simple fix.. If at the end you would like it sweeter, I recommend a drizzle of agave or honey.  It will not alter the flavor but will balance out acidity.  Just don't over-do it.  And then take note for next time, which onions/balsamic work best for you.  Just remember... Long, low and slow renders onions sweet and caramelized. The longer the better!

Slice onions into 1/2" slices.

This batch was mostly red, but it's best to use a combo of sweet & red.

Season with salt.

Onions have sweated down & carmelization is gonna start.

Time to add the peppers.

Adding the peppers later, keeps the integrity of their structure instead of turning to mush.

Adding the garlic, so it cooks just enough and doesn't burn.

Now adding the balsalmic & chicken broth.

Simmer, simmer, simmering the day away.

The dark balsalmic onions almost ready.

Perfection. Almost jam like.. delish!

No comments:

Post a Comment