Saturday, April 17, 2010

Onion Jam: The stuff obsessions are made of.

It really is no surprise that the onion is one of the oldest vegetables in the world. It is a vital base of so many different foods, and can be found in almost every culture's foodstuffs. Every time I saute them, I think of a study I read a long time ago that ranked them as the smell that most reminded men of being at home. Of course Googling such a subject topic to see where I may have read it revealed some interesting data, none of which I feel is appropriate to share here...

Sometimes, inspiration strikes in the strangest ways. I had some previously made flatbread dough and a small bowl of already sliced onions in the refrigerator last night, both from unfinished projects earlier in the week. The flatbreads were actually supposed to be made last Tuesday, and although the recipe said it would hold for 2 days in the fridge, I didn't know if it was going to make acceptable flatbread by Friday night, so I figured I would turn it into a skillet pizza - a trick I first saw Alex Guarnaschelli do a couple years ago on Food Network. The oven is preheated, 400 in my case, and you heat the skillet on the stove top with olive oil and sear both sides of a dough before topping it and finishing it in the oven. Since I had a bowl of sliced onions to use up (I don't even remember what I was going to use them for), I thought I would caramelize them for the pizza. While trying to be patient and stirring them, I was chatting away with Sasa, and we started talking about onion jam.

Pizza onions: higher heat, darker color.

I knew that the ones I was working on were going on a pizza, so I was not looking for the gently moderated heat that renders onions magically gelatinous. I got them done, finished up the pizza, and began plotting about onion jam. First thing this morning I starting my perusal for onion jam recipes. Some looked too sweet and some were more on the pickled side, but I finally found this one on Panini Happy, and knew it was more on par with what I was after. I am still looking for a recipe that would be able to be canned, if anyone can help me out - but meanwhile, I adapted the Panini Happy recipe to what I had on hand and my own personal taste.

I used 1 1/2 pounds of regular Wisconsin storage onions (about 6 medium/small ones), they were fairly strong. After cooking down, they yielded 10 1/2 oz. of jam. I also made a batch of granola in the interim, since most of the cooking time is largely unattended (and my oven was hot from roasting the garlic). It's always good to have a second project, so you don't go batty while waiting for the onions to soften. Your patience will be rewarded! I did set a timer for each of the caramelizing steps, which is much nicer than trying to rely solely on color, especially if you get interruptions. The original recipe said that it will last a week under refrigeration, but I suspect it could last longer. If you don't polish it off right away, that is.

Onion Jam
  • 1 1/2 lbs. onions, frenched (sliced)
  • 1 head of garlic, roasted
  • 1 T. granulated sugar
  • 2 T. dark brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 T. balsamic vinegar (I used 2, and then 2 of red wine vinegar, since it appears that I need to add balsamic vinegar to my shopping list)
  • water
Heat a lidded saute pan over medium heat, and saute onions in a t. of olive oil until softened and translucent, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes. If they start to stick at all, cover the pan, and turn your heat down a bit.

Add sugars, cover the pan, and continue cooking and stirring occasionally for another 20-30 minutes until the onions are golden brown.

Add 1/4 c. water, cover the pan, and continue cooking and stirring occasionally for another 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, mash up the roasted garlic cloves with a fork, and mix with the vinegar.

Then add the mashed garlic/vinegar mixture and an additional 1/4 c. of water and cook and stir until nicely thickened, another 10 minutes or so.

Lean towards the 30 minute mark if you want a darker jam, I stuck closer to the 20 minute marks, and mine was a beautiful, butterscotch color.

After having some of those great grilled cheese combinations on Thursday, I know I'll have at least one foray into the sandwich realm with this jam. The funny thing is, I ate a spoonful, and immediately wanted some with eggs. Weird! So, I will let you know if some onion-y eggs appear anywhere around my home this week. I have a sneaking suspicion that I'll be doing a lot with this humble condiment...


  1. *swoon*
    This would be perfect on a grilled cheese sandwich... or in an omelette (goes to show you where my brain goes when you mention eggs).

    While we're on the topic, and since you asked, I've got a couple of onion preserves bookmarked that you might want to look into:

    Onion and Rosemary Confiturra -- I'm such a fan of Rosemary, this one has been on my list for a while.

    Balsamic Onion Jam -- Another that looked good. Probably a bit sweeter than some, but the balsamic is appealing.

  2. Thanks, Lo! I'll bet I will be on this kick for awhile, so I love the ideas of your links... and rosemary will be in my herb garden soon, so that one will probably be first. Goes to show I have grilled cheese on the brain! And omelet is a great idea, I was actually thinking scrambled egg taco which is where my brain goes when I think of eggs... Hmmm. I think I know what is for breakfast tomorrow!

  3. Now, a scrambled egg taco doesn't sound like a bad idea either...

  4. this looks so great: when I made onion relish for the canjam what I really wanted to make was your onion jam... but needed to do something with so much vinegar so i could water bath can. i guess i'll have to just make a batch and eat it within the week or two: what a hardship!!

  5. Oh, I know someone who would love this, perhaps on a peanut butter sandwich? :) Eggs would be amazing with this too, or grilled cheese, or bread, anything really...

  6. T: I saw all of the CanJam recipes when I was looking, I'm wondering if I can pressure can a recipe more like this one - will research!

    Lo and bitesoflife: How about a slice of peanut butter bread, onion jam, fried egg (the way Lo described) and cheese? Have to consider the perfect cheese to try... something from Wisconsin of course!

  7. Onion jam and cheese sandwiches is how I roll. Gouda toast points with red onion marmalade, to be exact. I like how you plot! I never saw a recipe you could can safely. Not sure about pc, though!

  8. Yum! I always wish I knew some great ways to use onions. I recently got excited about pickled onions on sandwiches.

  9. Hi Rebecca. I found you from a link at Burp! I love Lo and Peef and I'm so happy they led me to your yummy blog. I've already printed two bread recipes that I can't wait to try.

    Your onion jam looks awesome. I made and canned onion jam last fall so I'll try to find the recipe for you. I love it and it's especially good to make a quick homemade salad dressing with olive oil and balsamic.

  10. Thanks, Laurie! And a good tip to make a salad dressing!

    Even though I ate some on a plain cheese sandwich today (it was Gouda, Julia!), last night we made spinach-mushroom-gruyere omelets, and spread a healthy amount of onion jam on top... Really good. I know I'll be making more soon!


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