Tuesday, May 29, 2012

When life gives you onions…

My parents generation have lead us to believe pressure cookers are time bombs of boiling hot lentil stew, ready to spray every wall of the kitchen and give all occupants 3rd degree burns. Nothing could be further from the truth, modern cookers have built in safety measures, and with correct use, are about as likely to explode as your kettle. They are an invaluable piece of equipment in the modern kitchen, and to make life even easier there are electric models available that don’t require constant attention, and won’t take up valuable stove space (although do a little research, you need a model that goes to 15psi, Russell Hobbs version does).

The idea started something like this... “What would happen if I put a whole lot of onions, a little wine, and splash of cognac into a pressure cooker”. It was about 1am, so not the ideal time to start cooking, but the idea was jotted down for the next night's meal. I know that when you pressure cook onion, it becomes mellow and sweet, and loses the harsh onion sting. Along with the pressure cooked onions, I decided to slowly caramelise sliced onion the traditional way, to really beef up the onion flavour. At least there was backup in the fridge if the whole thing turned pear shaped.

You don’t need to add a lot of liquid when pressure cooking, as it’s a closed system, so hardly anything will evaporate off, and all of the liquid from the onion will be pulled out, so only the bare minimum should be added, and added for flavour.

2kg Brown onions
30 ml Brandy
250 ml White wine

  1. Slice the head of the onions off, slice in half and peel.
  2. Thinly slice the onions, a mandoline makes quick work of this.

Pressure Cooker
  1. Melt a knob of butter in the pressure cooker, when sizzling add a handful of onions and sweat slightly.
  2. Add the brandy and let it cook off the harsh alcohol bite.
  3. Pour in the white wine, and add about two thirds of the remaining onions.
  4. Season with some salt and pepper.
  5. Cook on high pressure for 1 hour.

Frying Pan
  1. In a heavy based pan melt a little butter on the lowest heat and add the remaining onions.
  2. Season with a little salt.
  3. Let it cook on low heat, occasionally stirring, until the onions have caramelised. It will take about 40 minutes on the lowest heat, it’s a long time, but very much worth it.

Serving Up
  1. When the hour is up, use a quick release on the pressure cooker.
  2. Purée the pressure cooked onions, and pass through a sieve.
  3. Stir in the caramelised onion, saving a bit for garnish.
  4. Enrich the soup with a little butter, and adjust the seasoning.
  5. Ladle into warm bowl, garnish with some caramelised onion and sliced herb.
  6. Serve with some crusty bread.

The soup is rich, sweet, savoury and very very moreish. If you wish, you could loosen the soup with a good beef stock.

This recipe was originally posted by me on Localist