An ode to the caramelized onion.

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Holiday entertaining is as emotionally loaded as the towering height of the gifts stacked under your tree. Our minds are filled with images of tables laden with roasted meats and clever hors d’oeuvres, covered in sparkling china and silver, festooned with flowers and greens. Anything less would be a terrible disappointment; not a seasonal blessing but a symbol of scarcity. These thoughts plagued my mind as I took pen to paper to craft the menu for this year’s Christmas-party-on-a-budget.

There was no joy in thinking of the cost of prosciutto, shrimp, artichokes and haricots vert. But I was determined. This party was going to be fabulous! It would bring great food, bright decor, fellowship, laughter and joy to me and to our friends. Which is about the time I thought of the caramelized onion.

For pennies you can fill a pot with jammy, deep brown goodness. As rich as foie gras, sweet as the finest confections and with the slow cooked depth of roasted cuts of meat. The caramelized onion is as simple as three ingredients and one hour of stovetop love. (A few more ingredients will take you all the way to heaven.)

So entertain. Do it richly. Spread joy and good cheer to your friends. And do for no more than $5 and a baguette.

Caramelized Onion Crostini

Butter, onions and salt will deliver wonderful, rich, caramelized onions. Fresh herbs, cheese, nutmeg and Cognac make these exceptional.

Ingredients:

  • 1 baguette
  • olive oil
  • 3 tbs butter
  • 5 cups thinly sliced onion
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbs chopped rosemary
  • 1/4 cup Cognac or Mardeira
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta or sharp cheddar
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • nutmeg
  • Sherry vinegar

Directions:

  • Cut bread in 1/4” slices. Brush will oil and bake at 400 until golden, about 5-7 minutes.
  • Melt butter in a 4-6 qt pan over low heat. Add onions, salt them and cook 30-40 minutes until rich, dark brown and gooey. Stir to avoid burning. Add a little water toward the end if needed.
  • Add rosemary and liquor and cook 1-2 minutes over medium heat until liquid is evaporated.
  • Stir in feta and parsley. Season to taste with salt, pepper, nutmeg and vinegar.
  • Spread on crostini to serve.
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