Tagged: onions

Pimping your Food – Onion Stylee!

This is going to be a pretty short post because it’s not really about a whole plate of food. It’s about how to take a simple family classic and give it a simple tweak that will elevate it to a whole new level.

So, the simple dish of the day is… SAUSAGES & MASH!

Doesn’t get much easier than that. You can start with the basics and mess around to your hearts content, but everyone who has even basic kitchen skills should be able to put together some sausages and mashed potato so I won’t be telling you how to do either of them…

Well, all right, I will make a few suggestions…

I always roast my sausages in the oven, turning a couple of times… it takes about 30 mins and gives a nice all round ‘cook’.

As for mash, I rarely have it plain. There are just to many ways to sex it up. You’ll see from the pictures that I actually threw a few carrots into mine, cooked at the same time as the potatoes and mashed together too. Easy and more colourful… and, of course more tasty.

You can throw a handful of peeled garlic cloves into the potatoes as they cook and mash them all up together to get a really subtle flavour. Alternatively, at the mashing stage add mustard, or creamed horseradish, or harissa paste, or smoked paprika, or marmalade, or … well you get the idea.

But to get to the real point of this blog I want to introduce you to a little bit of classical French cooking. If you were a ‘saucier’, this gem would be a key piece of your arsenal. Surprisingly though, it is a rarely heard of sauce. I should point out too that I am going to be showing you a bit of a cheats version rather than the full hit ‘Masterchef’ one.

The sauce you are going to be making replaces the key missing element from the S&M which, as we all know, would normally be ONION GRAVY! (And fear not, I still love gravy and will continue you to use it as part of my S&M routine in years to come)

“Get on with it!” I hear you clamouring.

You are going to now discover how to make a SAUCE SOUBISE.

Already, it sounds a bit posh… perfect for dinner party oneupmanship etc.

A Sauce Soubise is basically where you combine a classic bechamel sauce with a fine onion puree… and that would be the proper way to do it… but most of us don’t have the time to be passing ingredients through fine sieves etc which is what you have to do if you are going down the ‘Masterchef’ route.

This is how you make a simplified version… but you can now call it “Sauce Soubise au Paysanne” and still keep ahead of your poncey mates!

Get three large onions and chop them coarsely.

Add them to a pan with a large knob of butter ( and I do mean large… 1/3 of a standard 250g block).

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Now all you are going to do is sweat them down for 30 mins on a low heat. Stir them regularly so they don’t brown up… you want to try and keep them pale in colour.

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Next, add a heaped tablespoon of flour and stir it around in the pan until it soaks up all the butter and onion juices.

Then add about a pint of vegetable stock and stir well so that it combines thoroughly with the onions and flour mix. Raise the heat slightly and get the pan going on a rolling simmer. This will let the liquid reduce slightly and start to thicken.

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Add some salt and white pepper (if you have it – black is fine too).

After about ten mins, get your electric hand blender (C’mon… you HAVE to have one of these in the kitchen!) and blitz the mixture until the you have made it into as fine a puree as you can.

Finally, add about 300ml of single cream and stir thoroughly until everything has warmed through.

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And that’s it… it really is a simple few steps and creates a marvellously rich and more’ish sauce. All the elements of an onion gravy with enough sophistication to satisfy the most pretentious of guests and… it really is bloody gorgeous. I first had this in a swanky restaurant and was in awe of how lovely it was… and then when I found out that it was so simple to make this basic version at home… HALLELUJAH!!

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Anyway, hope you enjoy… and if you want to go full out for cheffy marks, try the true classical version… but this one will do me just fine for the moment.

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Eel with Salad and Crispy Onions. (Not one of my best)

I got given an eel by Frank, yes, a whole eel minus the head. Well what the bloody hell do I do with that then?

I slept on it, not literally, but I pondered and trawled the web, there’s not much there unless you’re Japanese.
So I decided to fillet it. I first rinsed it in lots of water to get rid of any slimy goo and then I dried it with a towel so as I could get a grip on it to fillet it

Once I had filleted it I marinated it with the juice of a lemon, juice of a lime, a teaspoon of chilli flakes and an inch of ginger finely chopped, I left the eel to marinate for 6 hours while I still decided how I was going to cook it. I thought about frying after dusting with flour but in the end decided to grill it to try to ensure I got a nice crispy skin

 

I put the eel under the grill with the skin side up and gave it a long slow grill, I didn’t want to burn it. I had seen that the Japanese grill it twice as it’s a fatty fish. While it was cooking I made some crispy onions

I very finely chopped an onion and dropped the onions a little at a time into some hot oil

No need to coat in flour. Just watch the onions while they fry so as not to burn them and then take them out and put on kitchen paper to dry. They will stay crispy.

I then dressed a salad with an olive oil and fig balsamic vinegar dressing. I wanted a slight sweetness to the salad to go with the marinated eel. I put the eel on top of the salad and topped with the crispy onions

The verdict? I wouldn’t willingly eat it again. The skin was rock hard and the meat had the texture of wet bread. I know why eel is grilled twice now, but I thought that if you did that, there wouldn’t be much left to eat. I did finish the dish, the salad dressing was nice but Carol could only manage to eat 1 eel portion. I can also see why jellied eel or smoking it is the only way people eat this stuff, but it’s not for me. The eel that Carol didn’t eat is awaiting Chloe, next door’s cat, whose owners have gone on holiday. Chloe seems to stay here as she doesn’t get looked after by their 18 year old son who still hasn’t taken in the milk which was delivered on monday. It’s now thursday.

It did give me an excuse to make some crunchy French baguettes and get out the cheese for later on though. That was top notch.

Mugsie

 


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