Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Red Onion Pickles

In a previous post I listed pickles as one of my not fancy foods that I enjoy. This is a huge understatement and doesn't begin to address my undying passion/zeal/hunger for all things dill/bread&butter/sour/spicy that are pickles. Where others find solace in a chocolate chip cookie or warm brownie, I want to slurp down a Kosher dill spear. (I like cookies and brownies too, don't get me wrong.) I love the refreshing tang of a nice, cool pickle. My current ranking favorite store bought pickles is, as you may have guessed, the nuclear-green Vlasic Kosher Dill. Yum.

Today we are talking about pickled red onions however and using a recipe that I stole from the "Zuni Cafe Cookbook". The Zuni Cafe is in San Fransisco and they do a pretty killer job of cooking what they want, making it tasty, and keeping it seasonal. Judy Rodgers, the chef, actually modifies the day's menu depending on the weather outside. She will make a nice light soup when it is clear and sunny, and then thicken it up if clouds roll in. Pretty cool, and would be so hard in Maine where the weather changes direction like a squirrel in the middle of a road.

Not to be sidetracked from this delicious and EASY snack, let's get picklin'! First you need a couple of red onions and a pickle. Throw them all in the food processor or blender and puree to smooth. Drink. AHHHH! Gotcha good! While this recipe does take more effort than that, it isn't much.

Into one stainless steel pot (important or chemical reactions ruin the coloring of the onion) goes: 3 cups white vinegar, 1.5 cups sugar, 1 star anise, 2 bay leaves, 1 cinnamon stick broken up, and a couple of peppercorns. I would have added the allspice berries and whole cloves, but I am sadly out. Bring all of this to a rolling boil. Rolling boil not included in photo below...

While the pot is working on boiling, take two red onions, peel, and slice them into 3/8" rings. Try to get only the nice thick rings and not the thin weird ones.

Once the pot is boiling full-tilt chuck a third of the onion rings in, tuck them underwater, and wait 20 seconds.

At the end of the 20 seconds the vinegar should be boiling and you want to remove the onions to a cooling rack/plate. Repeat this with the remaining two thirds of onion rings. Let the rings cool completely and then do it all again, twice more. In the end your pickled onion rings should have gotten 3 dunks in the tank. At the end let the liquid cool completely and then pour over the rings in a tight-sealing container. They last indefinetely, but you are going to eat them quickly. I like 'em straight, and they serve them on burgers at Zuni Cafe.

A Mitch Hedburg quote for the day:
A pickle is a cucumber that sold its soul to the Devil. And the Devil is dill.

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