April 21, 2010
Sometimes, when I’m cooking alone in an empty house, I talk to myself. Well, I talk to my make-believe audience. I pretend I’m taping a segment of my cooking show. (Is this weird? It’s weird, isn’t it?) My cooking show that exists in a lot of daydreams. And nightmares, actually, namely the one where I’m on the Today Show leading a healthy cooking demo and Al Roker keeps firing questions about my supposed secret fried chicken recipe, I don’t like my outfit and the anchors keep forgetting my name.
Anyways, back to my happy fictitious cooking show. Yes, I carry on a conversation with the invisible camera, describing the ingredients as I chop and stir, making sure not to pause too long because dead air does not make for good TV. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with my solo cooking demos (except I’m wondering if I should really be disclosing this to the world wide web — too late), though I’ve noticed a couple things. One is I tend to whisper, even in an empty house, as if the neighbors will hear and know I’m home alone, talking to myself. Plus, I realize I don’t really like the sound of my voice. Like when you hear a recording of yourself and cringe? And two, I channel Ina Garten. I say things like how easy is that? and fabulous! and how bad can that be? Or I’ll insist on using really good vanilla and really fresh eggs. Am I being brainwashed by Food Network?
So when I was preparing this recipe, I kept hearing Ina in my head. While slicing the onions, I really love red onions. They’re a bit sweeter than yellow onions. [Take a nibble.] Mmm, such great flavor. While tucking them into the oven to roast, These will roast in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes covered, then I’ll remove the foil and allow them to roast for 20 minutes more. They’ll become caramelized and wonderful. How bad can that be? While preparing the reduction, It’s important to use really good balsamic vinegar here. Anytime you use just a handful of ingredients you want to make sure they’re really good quality. Makes all the difference. Oh, I think I hear Jeffrey! I mean Kyle, I think I hear Kyle!
All kidding and East Hamptons jokes aside, this is a healthy side dish simple enough for weeknight meals but special enough for weekend company. There is virtually no prep involved, save slicing some onions and reducing some balsamic. And it allows time for other, more important matters, like cocktail time or throwing together a tablescape. Ha!
Roasted Red Onions with Honey Balsamic Reduction
4 very large red onions, peeled and sliced into thirds (1-1 1/2 inch thick rounds)
kosher salt and pepper
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 T honey
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Spray a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and line with the onion rounds. Oil the top of each onion using a pastry brush and season with kosher salt and pepper. Cover onions with foil and roast in preheated oven for 40 minutes. Remove foil and roast uncovered for 20 minutes more. Remove from oven and set aside.
While the onions are roasting, prepare reduction (this can also be made a day or two in advance). In a small saucepan combine balsamic vinegar and honey. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or until liquid has reduced by half and coats the back of a spoon. (Be sure to watch this and stir frequently as it can turn into a sticky burned mess very quickly. I found out the hard way.)
Plate the rounds in a single layer. Drizzle the onions with the balsamic reduction and top with fresh thyme leaves. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Serves 4-6 as a side.