Sunday, March 23, 2008

Tomato and Onion Confits

Last weekend, Kirts challenged me. "You have to actually cook something and post about it," he said. He knows I can cook but that I just don't very often. Cooking for me is highly dependent on the weather, the season, my frame of mind, and frankly, if I'm in the mood to eat it all. (I do cook for my own dinner parties although it seems like it's been a while since I really threw down.) Making jellies, jams, pates, and other home-processed goodies is a perfect outlet for my creative cooking side and my not-wanting-to-eat-it-all side.

This morning, ready for a holiday of procrastination from work, I decided to make my lists and get out to Saraga bright and early. So much good produce today! (Can hardly wait to cook that baby bok choy.) Armed with recipes from Michael Ruhlman's Charcuterie I thought I'd make a couple of simple vegetable confits. I canned mine -- that is, I put them in small jars and processed them in boiling water so they'll be sealed and keep for a while, but these are simple to make even if you just want to keep them in the fridge and serve with meats or as part of a relish tray.

Tomato Confit from Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn (2005, WW Norton)

2 tbsp grated, peeled fresh ginger
2 tbsp minced shallots
1.5 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 EVOO
6 ripe Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
1/4 cup fresh herbs such as flat-leaf basil, parsley and chives or a combination
Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1) Combine ginger, shallots, garlic, oil, and vinegar in a medium-sized saucepot (or skillet) big enough for the tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and add the tomatoes. (Don't forget to peel them. If you're me, at this point, you'll need to take the ginger/garlic off the stove, boil a separate pot of water and concasse the tomatoes.)

2) Add the tomatoes and cook the entire mixture 12-15 minutes until soft and paste-like. (I'm not sure what he means by "paste-like" but since I didn't dice my tomatoes small enough, it took more like 30-45 minutes to cook everything down until it was about as thick as really thick spaghetti sauce.

3) Transfer to a bowl to cool. Stir in the herbs (I think I used twice as much because they were chopped). Season with S/P.

4) If you're going to process, transfer to sterilized jars and follow the instructions for your normal processing. (I left a 1/2 inch of head-space and processed for 10 minutes.)

Makes about 2 cups. I like the basic recipe but this will be spectacular in the fall with fresh tomatoes and basil. It's a little like a bruschetta topping but a little of that saved over for winter won't be bad.

Onion Confit also from Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn (2005 WW Norton)

3 ounces unsalted butter (about a 1/3 cup, a little over 6 tablespoons)
2 lbs Spanish onions or other sweet onions, halved lengthwise, and thin sliced. (As thin as possible)
1/2 cup dry white wine. (I used cave because it's what I had in the fridge. Damn, I had to open the bottle. Oh, what to do with the rest of this? Well, time for a drink!)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 white wine vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1) Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cover. Cook until soft, approximately 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2) Remove the lid and season with S/P. Add the wine, honey, vinegar and turn the heat to medium-high. Reduce the liquid until the onions are almost dry. (Words he uses "until most of the liquid had evaporated.) Remove from heat and let cool.

3) Serve chilled. If you're going to process, put in jars and proceed normally. Otherwise, store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

Makes about 2 cups. Fantastic! I'd make this again in a heartbeat paying a bit more attention to my knifework on the onions. I just had the better part of a jar with some white wine, dry cured salami (from St. Louis), and crackers, oh, and the rest of that bottle of cava. If you're wanting more *finished* looking "jam", then chop onions a bit. Tangy, sweet and delicious.

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