I hope you have some Kleenex around, because this video might make you cry!! Because today we are going to talk about onions! All different kinds of onions!! Red, yellow, white, pearl, shallots, spring, green and leeks! All of these onions pairs nicely with different kinds of dishes. So we will discuss that as well.
Before we get started, let me give you a tip, the warmer the onion, the more sulfur it releases which then atomizes in the air and turns into sulfuric acid. That my friend is why you tear up when you cut into the onion! So my advice is this, place the onion in the refrigerator for 30 minutes prior to cutting into it, or for 10 minutes in the freezer. It may not prevent all of the tears, but it will surely help!
Let's start with the red onion. Because of its color and strong flavor, I like to use this for fresh dishes where the onion isn't going to be cooked, like for salsas & relishes, seafood cocktails, hamburgers & hot dogs, tomato salad, and mixed concoctions like tuna & chicken salad. But due to its intense flavor, I always add the red onion just prior to serving in most of the dishes where it is mixed together with sour cream or mayonnaise. Otherwise, it has a tendency to over-power the dish if it rests in the refrigerator too long!
Next, the yellow onion & the white onion. The yellow be a little sweeter, so I use these when I am saut￩ing onions for a stew, stir-fry or when I caramelize onions for spaetzle. The white onion has a crisper, cleaner flavor so I use that for soups, potato dishes, pasta dishes and meat sauces.
Pearl onions and boiling onions are perfect for braising & roasting, like pot roasts, beef bourgogne, and other dishes where I want a whole onion.
The shallot is extremely flavorful, even a little bit more pungent than the red onion. This is one of my favorites for risotto dishes and for making sauces, especially when I am working with fish & seafood.
Spring onions and green onions are perfect for salads or grilled as a vegetable. Just make sure to trim off the root and remove 1/3 of the green. Sometimes I even remove the first layer of skin if it is partially dried.
And finally, the leek is a favorite for vegetable & potato gratins, potato salads, vegetable & seafood soups and fried as a garnish. Make sure you wash the leek properly before using. I start by cutting off the root and cutting off 1/3 of the green. Then I divide the leek in half and wash in between the layers of leek, because there is almost always some dirt in there!! And you don't want to eat the dirt..do ya? Then I cut the leeks in halves again, bring all of the halves together and then cut through the leeks in a downward motion, with my fingers free from the blade of the knife. The chopped leek I use for the gratins and salads. I use a julienne cut, where I slice thin strips of the leek lengthwise for soups and garnish!
Now let me show you how to dice, slice and chop the onion! Let's take a look at the onion. This is the root side and here is the blossom side. The root side holds together the onion, so keep that intact as you are slicing!! First, I cut away the two ends of the onion, then I peel the onion, removing the first 1 or 2 layers of the skin. I start by making slices into the onion from the blossom side, very close together, making sure that I don't cut all the way through the onion. Most chefs cut the onion in half and then continue with this procedure. You can do it either way, this is just my way! Taught to me by my mother when I was a little child!! Continue making slices until you have come across to the other side of the onion. Next, turn the onion 45 degrees so that you can continue to make slices across the other slices, making sure that you don't cut through the onion. Finally, place the onion on its edge and cut through the onion, making a very fine dice. Of course, sometimes I need to even the onion out by rocking my chef's knife over and through the diced onion, chopping it as I rock through it!
For a coarse dice or chop, do the same procedure as with the fine dice, but when you are slicing through the onion, make wider spaces between the slices.
For a thin slice, cut the onion in half and cut thin slices starting at the blossom end. This cut is great for salads but not good for saut￩ing!. For a quarter or saut￩ slice, cut the onion into 4 quarters and then cut the quarters into thin slices. These are perfect for saut￩ing!
For salads, sandwiches and pizzas, we use a lot of roasted shallots. My spice mix for the roasting consists of 2 tablespoons dried paprika, 2 teaspoons onion powder, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, ﾽ teaspoon salt, ﾽ teaspoon cayenne pepper. I mix that together and then whisk in 1cup of olive oil. Then I take my peeled shallots and toss them in the mixture, making sure to coat them evenly. I like to let them set a while to make sure the seasonings flavor the oil. Then I place the whole shallots in a non-stick baking dish and place in a preheated oven of 400 degrees F where I let them roast for 20 -25 minutes or until they are tender! Serve them warm or at rooms temperature!!
When I fry leeks, I start by cutting a julienne slice. I then heat up some canola oil in a small sauce pan over medium high heat. Once the oil is rippling, I carefully add some of the leeks into the oil and allow to fry for 1 -2 minutes or until they are golden brown. I have a paper towel ready to set them on so that they drain off the excess fat.
Often, I like to make crispy onion rings to top my salads, sandwiches and seafood cocktail dishes. I use the same spice mix as for the roasted shallots, but I mix that into 1cup of flour instead of the oil. I use small white onions or boiling onions and thinly slice into whole circles which I can press out into ringlets. I slice the onion either by hand or on my mandolin. I toss the ringlets into the flour mixture, making sure that they are evenly coated. Then, I heat some canola oil in a small sauce pan over medium high heat. Once the oil is rippling, I carefully remove the ringlets from the flour and place into the oil. Allow them to fry for 1-2 minutes or until they are golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on paper towel to drain.
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