There is a section in my cookbook collection that is for silliness: a Star Trek cookbook, a Green Eggs and Ham cookbook, and so on. What caught my eye today was The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook, by Alan Kistler.
In Chapter 2, "A Morsel in a Moment: Appetizers and Snacks", I found
The Cheesemonger's Candied Onions (page 52)
1 bag (2 cups) peeled pearl onions
2 teaspoons sugar or brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1 cup cold water
2. Cook gently until all water is absorbed and onions are coated in a light glaze, about 5 minutes.
3. Reduce heat to low. Cook slowly until glaze browns and onions attain golden-brown appearance, about 5 minutes more.
4. Alternative method: Once liquid is reduced to a glaze, put the entire pan in a preheated 350 degree oven, and roast until browned.
(Ed.: The recipe suggests you use fresh onions if possible; they are better than the frozen and peeled kind.)
It took me about 20 minutes to peel the onions, which is what the book said it would take. I put the ingredients into the cast iron skillet in the order it listed but I then wished I had added the onions after I had stirred the other ingredients together first. It didn't appear to be a problem, though.
I was suspicious about the timing listed in the recipe: using medium heat, would the 1 cup of water be absorbed or evaporated in about five minutes? The same went for step three. It just didn't seem like enough time.
Here was my dilemma: Do I follow the instructions according to time? Or according to description? I chose description.
|Starting to simmer|
|Water nearly gone after 30 minutes|
|Some browning. This is where I stopped the cooking|
The recipe did not specify serving them hot, warm, or cold. I tried one hot, then one warm, then one cold after it had been chilled for a few hours.
Hot: Very tasty! Lightly sweet from the glaze, lightly sweet and meaty from the onion, and, surprisingly, I got a mild acid, vinegar taste, too. It was a nice surprise. This would be good to serve as a condiment next to roast meat.
Warm: Even better! Buttery, a mild onion flavor, and a light blend of sweet and salty. I noticed a bit of a crunch from a larger onion. I tasted the glaze without the onion, too, and liked that. That is where I got the acid flavor. This would be good as a condiment or hors d'oeuvre.
Cold: Tasty! Like the hot version in flavor but a bit more sticky.
I liked the warm version the best because the flavors were more distinct.
To be honest, I expected either a thicker sugar coating on the soft onions or a thin but crackly candy coating on nearly raw onions. I got neither. I am glad the onions were soft and not bitey. I'm not sure if I would want more sweet coating on them or not.
So what sort of candied onion recipes might I find in our world?
This looked good: Candied Red Onions. It uses red onions, red wine vinegar, and sugar.
This, too: Candied Onions. It uses white onions, salt, butter, sugar, and steak sauce.
The idea that did not look good was someone using pearl onions dipped in chocolate as a prank! (Although, hmmmm. A cooked onion dipped in dark chocolate? Might be worthwhile, especially if it is a little salty.)
The basic idea of all these recipes is to get the onion cooked enough to be enjoyable eating and then getting a tasty glaze on it to enhance the flavor. I think you could play around with the spices and liquids to customize the flavor to match your entree.