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Make French onion soup and let us know how this technique works out?

http://www.seriouseats.com/2011/01/the-food-lab-real-french-onion-dip-homemade-super-bowl-recipe.html

So with a couple of little tweaks, I'd managed to whittle down a 45-minute long procedure to not much more than 15 or 20 minutes, and to be honest, the flavor developed in that short amount of time is actually deeper and more complex than the standard, slow-cooked French onion soup method (incidentally, this process is perfectly adaptable to onion soup—just add a splash of sherry and some good chicken or beef stock to the onion base and simmer it down for a few minutes. Delicious!)
Edited by HowardLi (log)
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Join me in trying to improve on fried onion rings with techniques borrowed from the starch-infused, ultrasonic French fries? See the onion rings thread.

And SL Kinsey has a neat trick with a cream whipper that seems worth trying, as well.

Do onion rings profit from a Maillard reaction, as per the Serious Eats reference above?

What's the difference, if any, between the sweet onions I bought today (imported from Mexico) vs. Vidallia or Walla Walla onions?

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What's the difference, if any, between the sweet onions I bought today (imported from Mexico) vs. Vidallia or Walla Walla onions?

I was going to embark on a long explanation, but the Serious Eats link says it pretty well:

Turns out that although sweet onions have about 25% more sugar in them, their flavor difference when raw has more to do with the amount of tear-inducing lachrymators they contain. Yellow onions have more pungent irritants than sweet, giving sweet onions the impression of actually being even sweeter than they really are. When you cook the onions down, these pungent compounds mellow out into more complex flavors, giving yellow onions a distinct edge over the sweet.

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Eat more chicken skin.

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What's the difference, if any, between the sweet onions I bought today (imported from Mexico) vs. Vidallia or Walla Walla onions?

I was going to embark on a long explanation, but the Serious Eats link says it pretty well:

Turns out that although sweet onions have about 25% more sugar in them, their flavor difference when raw has more to do with the amount of tear-inducing lachrymators they contain. Yellow onions have more pungent irritants than sweet, giving sweet onions the impression of actually being even sweeter than they really are. When you cook the onions down, these pungent compounds mellow out into more complex flavors, giving yellow onions a distinct edge over the sweet.

But both Vidallia and Walla Walla are considered sweet, aren't they?

And for making onion rings, everyone seems to recommend using them, vs. the more complex yellow onions. Is this because the fried onion rings don't cook long enough to mellow out the more complex flavors?

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I was given a large bag of (Peri & Sons - Firebaugh,Calif.) sweet onions last week and not having any special onion-y plans, chopped and vacuum sealed them in 1-cup bags and froze them. I already had sufficient stock of yellow, white and red onions to fill all my immediate needs.

My neighbor got them on a 2-for one special and had no idea what to do with the extra bag but couldn't pass up a "bargain."

I like regular onions for onion confit. The sweet onions are too bland at the finish and if cooked too long, develop a "tar-like" quality that is not at all like the regular onions finish.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Most of the yellow onions available in my area are grown right here in the Antelope Valley. If one lives in the western states and buys yellow or brown onions at Costco or Walmart - they are Antelope Valley onions. They grow very large in the loose sandy desert soil and are easy to harvest.

The same grower also has extensive acreage in the central valley where they grow a lot of red onions. They are also test growing the once popular "Bermuda" onion and some were available locally last fall at the farmers markets.

I hope they are successful because I love them.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I find the vidalias we get in such abundance too sweet for carmelized onions and ergo French onion soup. What we do here is grill them...a lot. Great in chili or other apps where a fresh onion taste is needed.

We also half them, season them with something strong, top with butter and wrap in foil. Put on the grill or in the oven until soft and then enjoy.

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I guess it is just my area, but I've almost completely stopped buying yellow onions. They are bitter and sharp and it's been getting progressively worse every year. I use sweet onions almost exclusively. My dad in Sarasota says that he has the same problem.

I forgot to add a hint. If your onions are super sharp and even somewhat bitter, store them in the fridge (in a crisper drawer with an uncovered cup or other container with baking soda to absorb any odor) for at least a week, then test one.

The sulfur compounds that are responsible for the sharpness will concentrate at the root end so immediately after removing from the fridge, cut that end off and discard before peeling and chopping the rest.

I've found that I have less tearing and the onions have a milder flavor.

I routinely do this with the larger (and stronger) green onions I grow past the "scallion" stage and which develop a very sharp flavor.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Good tip, Andie. Alternatively, I slice yellow onions and soak the slices in cold water for about 10 minutes. This seems to take the worst of the heat out of them, particularly for using raw.

But I really have to agree with Kim. We have stopped buying anything but sweet onions, switching variety as seasons dictate. The yellow onions sold in our area are just too "hot" for our taste, possibly useful cooked but killers of salads and other cold presentations. It's just easier to stock one kind that is (close to) all purpose: raw as well as in soups, braises, roast beds, etc.

I smile, however, at the OP's dilemma: I seldom buy less than 5 pounds at a time to prevent running out, we use so many. They do, depending on the season, cost a bloody fortune, however, but we find them worth every penny!

eGullet member #80.

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I pretty much agree with Doodad (I also live in Atlanta where we have an abundance of Vidalia onions year round). Like Doodad mentioned, I think they're the best onion for grilling and roasting. Grilled or sauteed thick slices of sweet onion are de rigueur for burgers.

I almost always prefer sweet onions for anything calling for raw onion (red onion in guacamole being my one exception). If you can find some good sushi grade tuna, make yourself some Poke. I sometimes use sweet onions for salsa if I want a sweet/hot combination -- usually with habanero salsas.

Sweet onions are also great for relishes and jams. At least here in the south there are numerous Vidalia onion jams and relishes available year round. Canning some relish and jam is also a good way to use up some excess product.

Contrary to some other posters, I don't mind carmelizing sweet onions, although I do find it necessary to add some salt to balance the sweetness. I'm probably in the minority, but I prefer to make French onion soup using 50/50 yellow and sweet onions.

I don't generally like sweet onions for stocks and mirepoix as it throws the balance off a bit. That said, if you like a sweeter marinara or other tomato based sauce, cooking it with sweet onions is not bad -- albeit nontraditional.

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When I'm doing a long grill or smoke, I always make a sweet onion BBQ sauce to go along with it. This my favorite for especially pork, but works well on brisket, too.

Puree a few onions with orange juice, tomato paste, and either molasses or brown sugar. Add the chile powder of your choice, I generally go for a smoky ancho powder. Then you can just reduce on the stove, but I tend to put my saucepan (or put the sauce in an aluminum tray) in the smoker/on the grill. That way it thickens and absorbs the smokiness of the meat, too.

"Life is a combination of magic and pasta." - Frederico Fellini

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I forgot to add a hint. If your onions are super sharp and even somewhat bitter, store them in the fridge (in a crisper drawer with an uncovered cup or other container with baking soda to absorb any odor) for at least a week, then test one.

The sulfur compounds that are responsible for the sharpness will concentrate at the root end so immediately after removing from the fridge, cut that end off and discard before peeling and chopping the rest.

I've found that I have less tearing and the onions have a milder flavor.

Andie, while it's certainly true that refrigerating onions slows the release of the volatile compounds that cause tears, it's my understanding that this is a temporary change -- that is, as soon as the onions warm up, they're just the same. I've not found any objective information that supports the theory about the compounds moving or concentrating in either end of the onion. Where did you come across this?

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I forgot to add a hint. If your onions are super sharp and even somewhat bitter, store them in the fridge (in a crisper drawer with an uncovered cup or other container with baking soda to absorb any odor) for at least a week, then test one.

The sulfur compounds that are responsible for the sharpness will concentrate at the root end so immediately after removing from the fridge, cut that end off and discard before peeling and chopping the rest.

I've found that I have less tearing and the onions have a milder flavor.

Andie, while it's certainly true that refrigerating onions slows the release of the volatile compounds that cause tears, it's my understanding that this is a temporary change -- that is, as soon as the onions warm up, they're just the same. I've not found any objective information that supports the theory about the compounds moving or concentrating in either end of the onion. Where did you come across this?

Personal experience usually with late-season onion over wintered in the ground (under deep mulch) which get rather potent.

After they have been sufficiently chilled for a week in the fridge, the root end is cut off with at least a half inch of the flesh, or more, and that discarded.

I've been doing this for decades and have no idea where I originally heard it.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Sweet onions are nice for carmelizing and adding as a pizza topping, as long as there is some spicy tomato sauce on the pizza to balance out the sugar. Another way I like them is in a stir-fry. I find that mostly when I go out for or get take-out Chinese or Viet food I rarely want to eat the onions that are often in the dish--sometimes far too many of them. Today I made a quick shrimp stir fry recipe that calls for a sweet onion. The onion gets wok-fried on high heat for just a couple of minutes, so that it gets just a little browned but remains slightly crunchy. World of difference between that and a regular yellow onion under the same conditions.

In Walla Walla one restaurant does a sweet onion deep fried "flower" that's pretty yummy. I love them grilled, just plain with olive oil and salt or on a burger. I'm not really a hot-dog person, but served with dijon mustard on a hot dog grilled WW's are pretty awesome. I eat fried onion rings once in a blue moon, but I imagine a sweet onion would do well that way.

In stews, most soups or long cooking braises sweet onion are not my first choice.

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