Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Onion and Bacon Marmalade

Onion and bacon marmalade? What the hell am I gonna do with that? Well, I'm sure it won't take you long to figure it out- this tasty combination can be mixed in with some mashed taters, layered in a roast beef and cheddar sandwich, or tossed in with your morning hash browns for a delicious kick.  Or a million other things that need a bit of bright, savory taste.  My application was for a party appetizer, and you can never have enough good recipes for those type of snacks.  This caramelized onion and bacon marmalade recipe is combined with the tang of apple cider and sherry vinegar, with a little bit of thyme for an herbal lift.  
Four pounds of onions might seem like a lot, but they do cook down quite a bit- and you'll need a hefty amount on hand for the myriad of potential culinary applications.   Wearing swim goggles while slicing the onions is optional to keep the eye burning and crying to a minimum.  Do you have any methods for preventing this?? I like to work quickly and as the mis en place dictates, keep the onion halves face down.

Onion and Bacon Marmalade 

8 slices thick bacon
4 lb. yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 ts kosher salt
3/4 C apple cider vinegar
1/4 C sherry vinegar
1/4 C dark or light brown sugar
10 sprigs of fresh thyme (bout 2 TB)
2 ts freshly cracked black pepper

In a large skillet or dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp.  Remove and set aside, crumble once cool.   Add the onions and turn the heat down to medium-low, so they cook gently.  If you hear too much sizzle, that's a sautee, which is too aggressive.  Sprinkle with the kosher salt and stir to coat all the onion with the salt and fat.  Mmmmm...salt and fat.  Cook until tender, stirring 2-3 times, for about 30 minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients, reserving 1 TB of thyme and 1 TB of crumbled bacon bits if you serve as below on toasted baguette slices.  Cook until all the liquid has evaporated and the onions are well-browned and deliciously caramelized, for about another hour or so, stirring every 15-20 minutes.  If they seem to be getting dry yet you still want to keep them going, add a splash of water or wine.

As long as things don't become too arid, the longer and slower you caramelize onions the better.  I have heard of one chef who has a 6 hour cook time, which prompted me to try a slow-cooker approach....didn't turn out too well, as you need to stir every 20-30 minutes...enough time to create the browning (Maillard reaction) but not letting them burn.  6 hours might be extreme, 60 minutes is more practical.  Serve as you wish, will keep up to a week in the fridge. 

This onion and bacon marmalade was delicious as an appetizer for a party celebrating the birth of my child- slice up a good baguette on the bias, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, grill or broil each side, spread on some quality goat cheese, top with the onion and bacon marmalade, then add the reserved bacon bits and thyme. 

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