A Bowl of Onion

Like their cousins garlic and shallots, onions are part of the Lily family. They grow from bulbs instead of seeds. There are basically two types of onions, storage onions and fresh onions.Storage onions come in yellow, white, red and are available from late summer to mid-spring. They have a tight bulb and thick skin. These are usually hotter than the fresh onions in flavor, and the white ones are stronger than the dark ones. Their name comes from the ability to store longer because a lot of moisture has been dried out of them already.Fresh onions come in the same colors but don’t have the thick skin like the storage onions. Most are usually only available from mid-spring through the summer. I however was able to find them in mid-November at Fresh and Easy. They have a high moisture and sugar content which makes them super sweet, with much shorter shelf life.Meet Mr. Yumion…
Mr. Yumion explains to us in this episode that fresh onions get their sweetness from the soil that has very low amounts of sulfur. I mean come on…how can you not love Alton Brown with a Mr. Yumion character 🙂

The best way to store onions is to hang them from a pair of pantyhose in a cool dry place. Tie knots between each onion so all you do is cut one or two off as you need them. Never store onions next to potatoes. They do not get along. If you’re storing half an onion be sure to put it in an air tight resealable bag as the refrigerator has a ton of moisture in it. Moisture=rotting onions.

There are a lot of myths about cutting onions without tears. I’ve seen a few television shows dedicated to this subject. AB also tried out some of the methods in this episode. Truthfully none of them work, unless you want to put on scuba goggles. The reason they make us cry is a defense mechanism from the onion. As soon as you damage the onion, sulfuric compounds from one part of the cell get to the enzymes of another that makes this gas come up and when it hits the liquid in your eye…sulfuric acid. So basically the onions resort to chemical warfare.

On to the recipe, I shed a few tears during this process.

French Onion Soup
(Printable Recipe)

Ingredients

* 5 sweet onions (like Vidalias) or a combination of sweet and red onions (about 4 pounds)
* 3 tablespoons butter
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 2 cups white wine
* 10 ounces canned beef consume
* 10 ounces chicken or vegetable broth
* 10 ounces apple cider (unfiltered is best)
* Bouquet garni; thyme sprigs, bay leaf and parsley tied together with kitchen string
* 1 loaf country style bread
* Kosher salt
* Ground black pepper
* Splash of Cognac (optional)
* 1 cup Fontina or Gruyere cheese, grated

Directions

Trim the ends off each onion then halve lengthwise. Remove peel and finely slice into half moon shapes. Set electric skillet to 300 degrees and add butter. Once butter has melted add a layer of onions and sprinkle with a little salt. Repeat layering onions and salt until all onions are in the skillet. Do not try stirring until onions have sweated down for 15 to 20 minutes. After that, stir occasionally until onions are dark mahogany and reduced to approximately 2 cups. This should take 45 minutes to 1 hour. Do not worry about burning.

Add enough wine to cover the onions and turn heat to high, reducing the wine to a syrup consistency. Add consume, chicken broth, apple cider and bouquet garni. Reduce heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes.

Place oven rack in top 1/3 of oven and heat broiler.

Cut country bread in rounds large enough to fit mouth of oven safe soup crocks. Place the slices on a baking sheet and place under broiler for 1 minute.

Season soup mixture with salt, pepper and cognac. Remove bouquet garni and ladle soup into crocks leaving one inch to the lip. Place bread round, toasted side down, on top of soup and top with grated cheese. Broil until cheese is bubbly and golden, 1 to 2 minutes.
Recipe Courtesey of FoodNetwork.com

I did not have an electric skillet. In the episode he says if you don’t have one to just use a heavy pot. Just make sure that your pot has a wide circumference, I chose a smaller one and the onions took a little while longer to completely reduce.

A big bowl of chopped onions! (Use a Madolin)

The cast of characters

A Bowl of Onion

Super yummy Ciabatta

Soup at last!
This soup was pretty good. The onion part itself was a little sweeter than I am used to but when you get a bite with the cheese and bread it was perfect! I used Gruyere cheese, so delicious!
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