Wednesday, December 12, 2007

jack takes on onion butter

Remember my attempt at onion butter? It ended up okay, but it bothered Jack to the point of obsession. He found the recipe I used (put cut up onions in a vessel, add heat, and ignore until they are a sticky dark mess...that's it) to be lazy and incomplete. There were lots of burnt onions and bitterness. So he took on the challenge of making better onion butter. And he succeeded. Big time. I asked him to write down the recipe and process he used to make the glorious sweet spread...

4-4.5 pounds yellow onion, sliced thin
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2-3 tsp kosher salt

I divided the onion between two baking dishes, tossed them with the olive oil and salt, and put them in a 350° oven for 45-60 minutes, taking care not to over-brown (burn) the onions on the edges of the pan.

On the stove over high/medium-high heat, I melted 3 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. After the butter stopped foaming and just before browning, I transferred the onions from the baking dishes to the pan and cooked on medium high, stirring occasionally. Once the onions began to brown, I turned the heat to medium and continued to cook (stirring occasionally) until the onions turned to a rich, dark brown (1 1/2 to 2 hours).

Here's the part I'm unsure of it's necessity...

I tested the onions at this point and found that, while sweet, I could still
feel the onion slices between my teeth so I added between 2-3 tablespoons of
water and stirred the mixture. After 15-20 minutes of cooking, I tested again and repeated the procedure. Once the mixture thickened, I turned off the heat and allowed the now caramelized onions to cool to room temperature.

I put batches of the onion in a small, hand-held food processor and processed the batch, resulting in a smooth, dark brown, sweet/savory paste.

soooo good on sliced bread with a sharp cheese.

Or without cheese...

Or as a spread on a pot roast and provolone sandwich...

Yup. He done it right. It's simple and delicious. An onion masterpiece.

UPDATE on Dec. 17, 2007: Over the weekend Jack made a he-yooge batch of this, and I was able to get photos of the process...

roughly 12 pounds of onions. He got all squatty (technical term!) shaped ones, because he heard from several people that they are sweeter...anyone heard this theory?

12 lbs. of onions chopped up and occupying every baking dish we own:

After hours of cooking in the oven (with occasional stirring to avoid burnt bitter bits), he was able to move everything to just one large baking dish:

At about that stage of brown-ness you see above, the onions were moved to a large soup pot on the stovetop and cooked, stirring often, until a nice dark brown like this:

Then they were blended to a spread in the food processor:

and that, folks is how you make 12 pounds of onions fit into a 48 oz. container (with room to spare!).

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