Know your Onions (& Garlic)

Onions…. for me are a staple of any meal.  I was recently helping my friend Colette out as she was trying out a three course meal option she may need to cook later on in the month.  Collette isn’t the most confident of cooks, but her meals nearly always turn out hearty and very tasty (though we wont talk about the Roasted Veg or Marzipan fruits).

Anyway, part of her meal involves sweating off some onions.  Colette dutifully chopped diced them, then went to heat up the pan with oil.  Now, I don’t know about you but this horrifies me.  Adding Onions to hot oil to me just means they will cook far too quickly and burn.

sliced-red-onions-5kg

I always add mine to a cold pan, add the butter/oil/fry-lite whatever it is you use, and turn the gas on low. “Low and Slow” is my mantra for cooking most stuff, but it is certainly my golden rule for onions.

In the gently heating pan, I can cook them for hours.  Its not uncommon for me to be cooking them for at least 2 hours for a simple pasta sauce, my record so far has been 4 hours for a rich cameralised base of a mix of onions, shallots and garlic.

Colette asked (far too early) if they were done.  “Listen to the pan” I whispered to her.  “Do they sound done?” I believe the reply I got was ‘Soppy Sod’ which I totally accept, but that is how I know my onions.  I listen to them.  The sizzle that tells me its time to stir, the softer sizzle that tells me its time to take them out of the pan. Sometimes the combination of smell and sound.cooking-onions-and-garlic

Hardly any of my onion cooking is done by feeling when I stir the onions, its all done by sound.  But how do you teach that?  Colette is a willing student, eager to learn more and expand her experiences but I was struggling to explain my technique.  Its something I really will need to work on.  One thing I have suggested she do is go and buy bags of cheap onions and chop and cook them, chop and cook them until she ‘gets it.’  As Colette cant really eat a lot of onions through diet restrictions, may I suggest if you are in the county of Essex and can smell onions gently frying low and slow, it might be worth a knock on her door as she will have a lot of onions to give away.

But what about the garlic I hear you cry….. you mentioned garlic in your title but so far its just about the onions.  Well my new craze is a delicious smoked garlic. smoked garlic
You can get it from a well known super market who I wont name as they are not sponsoring me to write this.  Smoked garlic is a lot sweeter than its pale pasty cousin, and really adds a deep flavour to any dish.  this past Saturday I stuffed a chicken with 2 whole bulbs (cut in half).  It just delicately flavoured the chicken.

Unfortunately, the smoked garlic I get at the moment isn’t as good as the smoked garlic you can get on the Isle of Wight, which reminds me.. I must book a trip there soon.

So, I’m rambling now its time to shut off this post.  In the meantime, please head over to my Facebook page and give it a like and let me know your favourite dish or ingredient.