All About Onions
Onions are an indispensable commodity in cuisines the world over. They are highly versatile, lending themselves to a variety of preparations and cooking methods.
Onions are underground bulbs related to the lily family. Do not refrigerate your onions, (with the exception of leeks and scallions), unless there is an unused portion, which should be wrapped in plastic first. The sooner you use it the better.
Use a very sharp knife to cut your onions and make sure your blade is partially imbedded before applying full pressure. Their moist, smooth exterior is ideal for sliding that dull blade right into your unwitting fingers.
So why do they make you cry?
When you pierce an onion you cut its cellular network. A series of sulfur-based compounds are released that instantly combine and recombine in a lightening fast succession of chemical reactions.
Sulfonic acid is given off and triggers the tear response when you breathe it in. Sorry you asked?
To highlight the onion’s diversity, below are four recipes, each with a different type of onion, and a different cooking technique, (one not cooked at all).
Baked Stuffed Onions
- 2 large Spanish onions peeled and cut in half horizontally
- 2 oz. bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese grated
- 1 tablespoon parsley chopped
- Extra virgin olive oil as needed
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Brush each half of the onion with olive oil and bake in a 350°F onion until they start to soften.
- Remove the onion and scoop out a hole in the center. Do not penetrate all the way through. Leave a base for the stuffing. Also, do not scoop too wide a hole or the onion will lose its structure.
- Mix the breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper. Chop the onion you scooped out and mix it with the bread crumbs.
- Moisten the mixture with enough olive oil to hold it together.
- Fill the onion halves and return them to the oven until the stuffing is brown, about 30 minutes.
- Trim the root end of the leeks but not completely. Leave enough for the leek to stay in tact. Then cut the last couple inches of the dark greens.
- Without cutting the root end, slice the leeks in half lengthwise, give them a quarter turn and slice lengthwise again.
- Rinse them under running water to remove all the grit in-between the leaves.
- Place the leeks in a large skillet and add the chicken stock, butter, half the parsley, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, leave a crack for evaporation, and then simmer until soft, about 20 minutes.
- Sprinkle with the remainder of the parsley just before serving.
- (Calorie counters: Skip the butter and use low fat chicken broth).
- 1 bunch of shallots
- milk for dredging
- flour for dredging
- salt & pepper to taste
- Simply take a bunch of shallots, peel them, and slice them thinly crosswise.
- Take some all-purpose flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Dip the shallot slices in milk and then dredge in the flour. Place them in a strainer and bang off the excess flour.
- Drop them in 350°F vegetable oil. They will cook quickly so keep an eye on them.
- As soon as they’re golden brown, remove them from the oil, drain, and sprinkle with additional salt.
Green Onion Dressing
- 1 batch of scallions
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 4 teaspoons Champagne vinegar
- 1 small garlic clove
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Rinse the scallions, trim the root end, and then roughly chop them.
- Place all of the ingredients except the oil in a food processor and puree. Then add the oil in a slow, thin stream with the processor on until it is incorporated.