Nothing is more dramatically transformed by browning than onions. Sharply pungent raw onions become richly mellow, savory and sweet. This caramelized-onion marmalade has many uses: as a sandwich spread, or on a grilled cheese sandwich. I often use it as a base for salad dressing (mix 1 tablespoon of olive oil with every quarter-cup of marmalade). It can be tossed with pasta, crumbled bacon, and chèvre; or a topping for bruschetta or pizza (try it with fontina, mushrooms, and sausage or with Gorgonzola and pine nuts.) It can be made in larger quantities, freezes beautifully, and can be kept in the refrigerator for weeks.
- One very large onion, red, white or yellow, not supersweet (1-1 1/2 pound)
- 1 T. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves (do not use ground)
- 2 T. medium dry sherry, such as Amontillado, or Dry Sack, or tawny port (optional)
- 1 T. sherry or red-wine vinegar
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Cut the onion in half and then into quarters. Slice them about ¼-inch thick. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add the onion. Toss the oil and onion to combine them, then add the thyme, the port or sherry, and the vinegar.
Cover and “sweat” the onion until it has softened. Remove the lid and turn the heat to low. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is deep brown and caramelized, and the mixture is thick and almost gooey. This can take quite a while, a half hour or more, especially if you’re making a larger quantity. Makes about 1 cup.
Note: Sherry vinegar is available locally at Incredibly Delicious, 925 S. Seventh St. It’s one of my pantry staples, something I always have on hand. Nutty and faintly sweet, it enhances many foods, especially onions, ham and other smoked meats and fish, blue cheeses and seafood; it makes a fantastic vinaigrette for salads.