Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Recipe: Caramelized Onion, Shiitake, & Goat Cheese Ravioli
I grew up in a strict no-onion household. My dad has harbored a lifelong aversion to onions, aided first by my grandmother, who routinely makes a small "Scott-only" version of every dish she prepares, and then by my mother, who was never a big fan of onions anyway and was quite happy to ban them from her kitchen.
For years, I followed the party line, routinely picking onions out of everything I ate and complaining right along with dad if a restaurant ignored my "no onions" request. I couldn't stand the way that the tang of raw onions lingered in my mouth for hours after I ate them, and I could see no benefit to including them in anything I made.
As I've gotten more and more into cooking, I've slowly realized that onions are one of the easiest ingredients to transform. Simply by preparing them a certain way, they can take on a completely different character. For me, this realization started with risotto; slow-cooking onions with Arborio rice in broth causes them to lose their acidity and take on the flavor of butter and broth instead. I came to realize that cooked onions were vastly different than raw onions; just a little time on the stove transforms them completely.
The first time I caramelized onions was for Julia Child's french onion soup. Following Julia's "low and slow" dictum left me with onions that were sweet, buttery, brown, and tasted nothing like their raw counterparts. I've been a fan ever since, though to date I've been unable to convince my skeptical parents that onions really can be sweet and delicious.
As for me, I still hate raw onions. I still pick them off hamburger buns, out of pizza, and off of any other dish where they aren't fully cooked. But caramelized onions? I could eat them every day of the week.