I came away from Austin with a new love: pickled onions. OK, I did flirt with a fried pickle, but it was just an infatuation. I think my love of the pickled onion has staying power.
Going to an IACP Conference is a little like being set down in the middle of a Calcutta rush hour intersection. Everyone is going somewhere, people are connecting on Twitter and colliding in the hallways as they tap into their devices, and look for their next session or contact. It’s an adrenalin rush of networking, and when Susan invited me and another IACP-er to a quiet backporch dinner, it was like being invited to an oasis of calm.
There was a delicious table full of goodness waiting for us when we walked in the door. Plates of warm tacos, chile spiked BBQ, baked tortillas and beans scented the whole room while we sipped some cool rose wine. But there tucked away on the far corner of the table, like a shy girl at her first dance, sat a bowl of pickled onions aglow with a natural pink blush.
I’ll take pickles over sweets any day, so I was immediately intrigued. It made perfect sense to pair BBQ with something pickled, the acid and the salt could free up the palette after the fatty richness of the meat. But it was the crunch, the tartness, the play on flavors that hooked me. Susan used a recipe from Joe Yonan’s new book Serve Yourself and that is one bangin’ good recipe.
Now I’m back in Montone, and I’ve got a bowl of magnificent red onions staring at me, and I remember the shy girl at the dance, and I come up with my version of pickled onions. What would you call them here? Cipolla sottaceti? Ciopolla salamoia? Doesn’t quite have the same appeal, does it?
Here’s my version of Pickled Onions:
2 large red onions, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup vinegar
3/4 cup water
1 t salt
Zested orange peel
Peel and slice the onions to a medium thickness, about 1/4” or 5cm.
Combine all the other ingredients in a bowl and mix until the salt dissolves.
Place the onions into a jar and cover with the brine mixture.
I like chili peppers, and mine are sort of punky, not that hot, so I added a good 5-7 chili peppers into the brine.
I also like the way orange peel acts as a flavor bridge and enhancer, it smooths out some of the rough edges of the chili and pepper corns. But, you adjust the brine the way you like it.
Let the onions marinate for 24-48 hours before using them.
This is not a sterilized, canning recipe. These onions will only keep for about a week to 10 days in the fridge, so just make a small batch and next time fool around and tweak the recipe a bit, just for the fun of it.
Next up: Fried Zucchini Blossoms with a Pickled Onion Sauce