I’m a big fan of any recipe that uses minimal ingredients—but has maximum impact.
And I especially warm up to a recipe that’s also easy to make. I like this idea so much that I wished I’d come up with the idea before the minimalistic Mark Bittman did. Because if I did, perhaps I’d be writing for the New York Times and Mr. Bittman would be sitting here pondering whether his socks were goofy or not.
But sour grapes do not make a good sorbet, although tart vinegar does makes for great pickled onions. And like any good minimalistic recipe, this is super-simple and anyone can feel like a pro-pickler in less than cinq minutes.
You might remember way back when, while Mark Bittman was winning over the world with his no-knead bread, I was barely causing a stir by slow-simmering an alternate version of pickled red onions. Although delicious, I wanted to come up with a recipe that was less-complicated.
I recently made a fantastic;mdash;if I do say so myself…red chile-cooked pork shoulder. I simmered up a salsa de chile rojo and snuck a handful….a very, very generous handful…of my Xocopili cumin-spiced chocolate balls in there.
(Which, btw, are almost all gone. Yay!)
These also have a stunning red color, which always surprises French guests. Red onions, which I love and miss using with reckless abandon, are considered a specialty in France and are four times the price of regular onions, so they’re not used quite so often.
But if you live somewhere where onions prices are equivalent, revel in as many red onions as you can, and feel free to double or triple this recipe. As Joni Mitchell sang, you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.
I don’t think she was singing about onions, although these pickled ones are certainly something to sing about.
Pickled Red Onions
These onions make a over-the-top side dish and I serve them not just with Mexican food, but with barbequed meats and even chopped in potato salad. Reserve any liquid and use it to add tang to cole slaw or chopped vegetable salad.
You can vary the seasonings. I used allspice and bay leaves, and sometimes I add a few kernels of black pepper and cloves. But cinnamon sticks and star anise would work, and I’m thinking of experimenting with very thinly sliced cloves of garlic or carrots, for contrast.
- 3/4 cup (180ml) white vinegar
- 3 tablespoons (50gr) sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 allspice berries
- 5 whole cloves
- a small, dried chile pepper
- 1 large red onion, peeled, and thinly sliced into rings
1. In a small, non-reactive saucepan, heat the vinegar, sugar, salt, seasonings and chile until boiling.
2. Add the onion slices and lower heat, then simmer gently for 30 seconds.
3. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
4. Transfer the onions and the liquid into a jar then refrigerate until ready to use.
Storage: The onions will keep for several months, but I find they’re best the week they’re made.
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