Onion confit is easy

Anyone who has cooked for awhile knows the culinary world is rife with conflicting information, and there are often several (sometimes many) ways to achieve the same outcome. I used to work at a food magazine where the technique to create a lattice pastry for pie was the source of passionate debate. And the truth was, everyone was right.

Definitions also are fluid. For example, I’ve found at least three definitions for the difference between broth and stock. Some people say stock is made with roasted bones while broth is not. Some of my culinary instructors say the difference is salt: broth is salted, but stock is not. Wayne Gisslen’s Professional Cooking, the textbook I’m using these days, says a broth is made from simmering meat and vegetables, and is usually a byproduct of simmering meat or poultry for a recipe, whereas stock is made from simmering bones (unroasted or roasted) and vegetables.

I’ve come across similar confusion with the definition of confit. Food Lover’s Companion, the go-to reference for many foodies and editors, defines confit as salting and cooking meat in its own fat as a means to preserve it–as in duck or goose confit. Gisslen goes a bit broader, defining confit as a food “saturated with one of the following: vinegar (vegetables); sugar (fruits); alcohol (fruits); fat (poultry).”

So with Gisslen’s definition in mind, I prepared this Red Onion Confit, which is a remarkably easy and versatile condiment. All you do is cook the onions over gentle heat until they’re ultra-tender, sweet, and sour. You can serve the stuff with crackers or toasted baguette as an appetizer (great with gin and tonic), a condiment with grilled or roast meat, or, as I did on a pizza with fontina cheese using the most reliable pizza dough recipe, ever. It’s the new favorite pizza in our household.

Red Onion Confit-Fontina Pizza

Red Onion Confit-Fontina Pizza

Red Onion Confit

Hearty red onions and balsamic vinegar lend this confit vivid flavor. You can experiment with other varieties of onions, different vinegars, and various herbs. The confit will keep in the refrigerator for about 1 week.

Recipe adapted from Le Cordon Bleu.

1 tablespoon butter

1 large red onion, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pinch of dried thyme

1/2 cup red wine (such as malbec)

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add butter, and cook until browned. Add onion, sugar, salt, pepper, and thyme; stir to combine. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook 5 minutes, or until the onions are tender.

2. Uncover pan, and add the wine, scraping the pan to loosen any browned bits. Cook until the wine almost evaporates. Stir in vinegar. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes or until the onions are very tender. Stir occasionally. Adjust salt and pepper as needed. Yield: about 1 cup. 

Red Onion Confit-Fontina Pizza

1 recipe Basic Pizza Dough

1 tablespoon cornmeal

1/2 cup shredded fontina cheese

1/2 cup Red Onion Confit

1. Place a pizza stone in oven. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

2. Roll out dough into a 10-inch circle on a floured surface. Transfer dough to a pizza peel or rimless baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Sprinkle dough with cheese. Top with Red Onion Confit. Transfer to preheated pizza stone (the dough should slide off the peel/baking sheet easily, though you may need to use a spatula to guide the dough onto the stone). Bake 9 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned and top is bubbly. Yield: 1 pizza.

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One thought on “Onion confit is easy

  1. Favorite onion confit:

    Vidalia onions with tarragon vinegar, dry white wine like Viognier or SB, and fresh tarragon and chives.

    Hooray spring!

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