Red Onion & Port Confit
Slather on puff pastry and top with feta for a galette that’s faster than anything the Golden Arches could ever muster, dab on chicken liver parfait, pair with foie gras, pep up the paté and posh up your sausage rolls – there are a multitude of uses for this glorious gloop and a jar should always be in your fridge.
Having said all that about alacrity in its use…the making of the stuff requires some patience, a gentle touch and an olfactory protection kit because cry you will.
3kg Red Onions – One would think this was obvious except one of my friends who shall remain anonymous once made with white onions and asked me why it came out brown? Now red onions…. Romania is blessed with native red onion varieties known for their sweetness. I am particularly acquainted with those from “Chibed” and whenever I am in the area I try and buy as many as is feasible. Read more about the differences in native Romanian onion varieties here.
So fond of onions are the Romanians that in 2007 a village in Transylvania set a world record for a 4.5km (yes kilometer) onion string and the mayor created a six metre high bronze onion statue in the village to honour the achievement. Read more about this fascinating genus Allium fact here.
1 bottle of Red Wine plus 1 glass of Port if you have some Port (otherwise use a pretty dark heavy red wine) This recipe is good for leftover red wine, if that concept exists for you.
500ml Apple Juice (which reduces the need for sugar) reduced down to a scant 200ml
50g Honey or agave nectar
A little grated beetroot – 50-100g This aids sweetness and brightens the colour quite naturally
Fresh Thyme – quite important to me. Leaves from 2-3 sprigs
Ground cloves 0.5 tsp and nutmeg 0.5tsp. Salt & Pepper. Two bay leaves
Olive oil for sweating the onions – 75ml approx.
I don’t add garlic. This isn’t about garlic. Its about onions.
Gadgets & Gizmos
A saucepan with a thick base, quite a large pan and one with a lid. You may want to cook on the BBQ to avoid onion smells but make sure you have a good constant heat not a raging inferno.
Onions are high in sugar and hence their rendering down produces this heavenly sweet sticky residue that we know and love variously as onion jam, marmalade or confit. Although I did once make only by rendering down onions (but I was lucky with supremely good onions) for fool proof results I add something sweet plus some red wine and port to deepen the flavor.
Thinly slice the onions and then sweat them in the oil ie frying them extremely gently and slowly so they never ever burn but instead become translucent. Add the aromatics. Cook for 45 mins – 1hour. There should be no juices left and the onions should be soft and easily broken up.
Now turn the heat up a bit and add the liquids. Reduce down until the onions and liquids are now resembling a jam. The liquid will reduce down by approximately two thirds. Pot in hot jars as for jam but because the sugar content is not as high as jam I water bath mine so they keep for a long time.