Thomas Keller is a culinary genius. Unfortunately his name goes relatively unknown amongst the general American public. For the longest time, I knew the big names of American cuisine, but I never followed their work. I always felt their techniques were beyond my culinary skill; their plates too perfect for me to attempt. In essence, they intimidated me and I placed them high up on a pedestal. That was until I picked up the cookbook Ad Hoc at Home. In this book, Thomas Keller outlines how to create dishes he serves in his restaurant Ad Hoc, stripped down so that any person with a stove and a knife can create his dishes at home with ingredients that can be found at any supermarket.
I reproduce here my tweaked version of Mr. Keller’s recipe for Melted Onions. With relatively little preparation, this recipe yields a versatile and delicious condiment that can be paired with nearly anything and for any meal. When raw, onions have an aggressive attitude problem. When melted, they become intensely sweet; something you would have no problem bringing home to meet your parents.
- 3 large onions
- 1 1/2 tbsp salt
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp oregano
1. Peel the onions and slice thin.
Note: If your eyes are watering just looking at the picture above, know that the best way to avoid watery eyes is by cutting with the sharpest knife possible. I’ve tried all the remedies (chewing gum, lighting a candle, etc) and nothing has ever consistently worked. A sharp knife will damage the least amount of cells in the onion thereby reducing the amount of juice released into the air. This leads to dry eyes and safe cutting.
2. Put a large skillet over medium-low heat (a three on the dial) and add the onion, garlic and salt to the pan. Stir occasionally for 20 minutes or until the onion have released the majority of their juices.
3. Add the herbs, butter and cover the pan. Cook for an additional 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. The onions should constantly be creaming looking. If you find the onions are drying out, add a little water to emulsify the butter.
4. This will keep in your refrigerator for about a week or two. I’ve used this to top grilled steak, mix into scrambled eggs, or to provide flavor atop turkey burgers. Like most condiments, the uses are merely limited by your imagination.