Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Soupe a l'Oignon

Ahh french onion soup. Did you know they just call it onion soup in France? Amazing. I bet in China they don't call it Chinese food, it's probably just called food.

After numerous attempts and multiple tweaks, I've finally found the proper ingredients and method, as even my good friend Mr. Alton Brown's version is too apple-cidery for me. The key is to give the onions plenty of time to caramelize...and I'm talking hours. Yes, 20-30 minutes will caramelize onions, but if Julia Child and Shirley Corriher insist on doing it a certain way, and you want to eat properly, you'd better listen. There's not much hands-on time in those hours anyway, something to do on days meant for this kind of thing, usually they're called Sundays.

The bouquet garni is optional, however since it's french, I thought it appropriate. One garlic clove, smashed, sprinkled with a TB of herbs-oregano, rosemary, thyme, wrapped up in cheesecloth and tied shut. This little gift will impart nice fresh flavor and then you toss it out, nice and easy. Whatever herbs you have will work.

Interesting Tom Skilling fact that proves 2009's weather is completely F'd- For the first October since 1883, Chicago experienced 19 days of rain. Oh the joy.

Soupe a l'Oignon
4 servings

5-6 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 TB unsalted butter
2 TB evoo
3 C beef stock
2 C chicken stock, homemade preferred
4 TB brandy
1/3 C dry white wine
sliced french baguette bread, toasted on one side, cubed if desired, or large croutons
2/3 C Gruyere, shredded

Melt the butter in a large saute pan with the olive oil over low heat and toss in the onions. Did you know sauter is french for 'jump'? That technique should not be used here, just thought you'd like to know. You don't want your onions jumping. After 30-40 minutes, deglaze the pan with your liquid of choice- I like to use brandy, dry white wine, and water, in that order. First, 4-5 TBS of brandy, scraping up the fond well. The second time, after another 30 minutes or so, use about 1/3 C of dry white wine. Continue to caramelize for another 60 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes and adding a little bit of water every 20 minutes or so. You want to do this over low heat, ensuring the onions are not burning. The onions should be very dark-

Add the stocks and bouquet garni, if using, and bring to a bare simmer over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Toss the garni and ladle the onion soup into ovenproof crocks. Add the bread, toasted side up and then dump a generous amount of Gruyere on top. Place under a preheated broiler on full whack for about 3-5 minutes, rotating to toast evenly. Let sit for a couple minutes and then get a spoon. Tout le plaisir est pour moi.

The real deal in its native country, a nice treat after climbing 674 stairs of the Eiffel Tower-

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