Appetizers – check! Entree – check! Main course – check! Dessert – check! Cheese – check! This was me, last Friday, skimming through my shopping as well as to do list. Checking of items on your checklist, isn’t that the greatest?! It was already late in the afternoon and I had not only prepared everything that could be done in advance, my timing was much better than usual. The additional spare time gave me the luxury of going through our complete menu once again, and oh gosh, how could I have missed a little something to accompany the cheese course? Grapes, nuts, store-bought mustard or chutneys usually would do a great job, but since we awaited dear friends from Italy, I waived the typical options and turned to my cookbooks for a quick fix.
Only minutes later I had drafted Oliver into kitchen service, taking full advantage of his cutting skills. My man loves any kitchen work that involves a sharp knife, so no humbly beseeching was necessary and the big pile of red onions for a homemade confit was sliced up in no time. Now I had everything at hand that the recipe asked for and in less than an hour I was filling the enticing result in one large and two tiny glasses. As usual I couldn’t help it and had altered the recipe to my liking, substituting orange juice for water, port wine for red wine and thick, aged balsamic vinegar for regular one. While the onions turned into a glossy, sweet-sour delicacy, Oliver and myself couldn’t stop tasting directly from the pot and an odd thought came to mind: why not serve this confit with a little cheese – instead of cheese with a little confit?
Heat the butter and half of the olive oil over low to medium heat in a large pot and add the sliced onions. Cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes while stirring occasionally.
Add the thyme sprigs, the bay leaf and muscovado sugar, then season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes until the onions are tender. Again, don’t forget to occasionally stir – the onions are not supposed to gain (much) color.
Add the finely chopped prunes and the liquids: the orange juice, the balsamic vinegar and the port wine. Adapt the temperature until the mixture slightly simmers and keep stirring regularly until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes.
Finally add the remaining olive oil (gives a nice, glossy finish) and season to your own taste. More vinegar for an extra tangy note? A bit more pepper to spice things up? Hey it’s your canvas confit, you can do it! (sorry B .Ross came through) Keeps in the fridge for several days.
Red Onion Confit with Port Wine
Recipe source: inspired by Perfect Pickles, Catherine Atkinson, p.59
Required time: prep. ~45 min. plus chilling
2 tbsp butter
2-3 tbsp olive oil
400g sliced red onions
~5 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2-3 tbsp light brown muscovado sugar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
75g finely chopped prunes
juice of 1/2 orange
3 tbsp thick, aged balsamic vinegar
100ml port wine
serve with an assortment of different cheeses, our latest choice included Montbriac, 2 year aged Gouda, Valençay