Thursday, July 15, 2010

CSA Week 4-Pickled Onions

The first time I fell in love with pickled onions was at Rick Bayless' restaurant XOCO. I pretty much fell in love with any food he cooked at that point, too. But honestly, I never thought pickled onions were much good for anything.

I first tasted pickled onions as a kid growing up in a family with both Swedish and German ancestry. My dad had a thing for canned and pickled fish, and I do remember that onions provided a nice crunch to counter the somewhat mushy flesh of pickled herring. I can't say that I fell in love with pickled onions at that time.

I'm sure I must have had a pickled onion in a cocktail at some point in my life, but again, those small, white sour onions seemed hardly worth the effort.

But the onions I had on the chicken sandwich at XOCO were different. Delicate strands of pink onion, packed a punch—first sour, then sweet, culminating with a slight hint of heat. They were flavorful and robust, yet delicate and yeilding. They let the heat of the spicy marinated chicken shine through, then offered a sweet reprieve, a refreshing crunch, and a palate-cleansing zing before the spice of the salsa kicked in. I fell in love. Honestly, the onions stand out as thegreatest memory from that meal. No lie. Along with the chicken, the soup, the salsa and the pasilla brownie.

I've been dreaming about those onions ever since. Finally when last week's CSA arrived and included pearl onions, I decided to make my own. I searched my cookbooks and found a recipe in Marcus Samuelsson's The Soul of a New Cuisine. I love that cookbook, and this recipe didn't let me down. I adapted a few things (I used jalapenos which are growing in my garden, instead of habaneros) and omitted a few things, too. The onions turned out great and are good with just about everything.

Pickled Onions

2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, sliced ¼ inch rings or less
2 chiles (habaneros or jalapenos), seeded and diced
2 small shallots, chopped
1 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp onion seed
1 bay leaf
zest and juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
¾ cup white wine
2 cup water
2 garlic cloves, sliced
tarragon sprig (I used dry)

1. Heat olive oil in a pan.
2. Saute onions and peppers 2 minutes. Add shallots, herbs, lime zest, vinegar, salt, sugar and water and bring to a boil.
3. Simmer 10 minutes.
4. Add lime juice, garlic, and tarragon and boil 3 more minutes.
5. Cool and jar.


girasol said...

I am so excited about this recipe. I adore pickled onions but have never made them. Maybe I should have read the ingredient list BEFORE I went to the store today though. I did remember to get onions. :)

RCakeWalk said...

I have "hot pickled Mexican relish" on my canning list this summer, but these look so great, I may have to add them too!

And is there anything Rick Bayless doesn't excel in?! It's a pleasure whenever I see anything about him, I could just soak him up like a sponge :)

Otehlia said...

I am going to try a L'Etoile pickled onion recipe this week. Taste test time! I love these though, and the color is so pretty.

RCakeWalk, please share recipe for relish. I love the idea of a spicy relish! Can't wait.

Pam said...

Oh, it looks delicious and I have to try it! Yum! I'm so glad to have found your blog! Thanks for the recipe!

redmenace said...

First, color me jealous. I am dying to try one of Rick Bayless' restaurants!!!! Just dying! These pink onions are so lovely. The color is amazing! said...

Yummmm girl! This is awesome - We used to make them in Mexico and I kind of forgot about them.... Delicious -

Otehlia said...

I had no idea pickled onions were a Mexican thing. I am slightly becoming obsessed with them, though. And Rick's restaurant Xoco is totally affordable! $10-15. Amazing.