The Epicurean Table -

vegetable - onion, confit, condiment


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These recipes are for your personal use only and may not be added in any form to archives or other works. 


Onion Confit with Variations 

Caramelized, sweet with a tart hint of balsamic, red wine or other vinegar a delicious confit, onions meltingly soft, is sometimes just the special condiment needed with lamb, roasts and certainly used in the classic way - with duck.  Or, just on a good piece of bread!  An easy condiment to make, but needing time, make in large batches and preserve (read Food Preserving - Reviving a Tradition in the Food Bytes section for an uncomplicated method for preserving your small batches of food goodies without special equipment - onion confit will keep 9 mos. or a little more).  I prefer using the red onion for my confit because of its natural sweetness and mild taste.  However normal cooking onions will also be good and produces a lighter coloured confit.  This can be made in advance and warmed or be cooking whilst the rest of the dinner is going!


serves 4  (recipe can be multiplied easily for larger batches) 

makes about 1 cup


500 g. red onion (or cooking onion)

2 T. butter 

a drizzle of olive oil (and more if necessary)

100 ml. red wine, not too robust

100 ml. orange juice with pulp (and more if necessary)

2 bay leaves

2 t. brown sugar (or white or honey, if using honey increase to 1 T.)

balsamic vinegar, a good splash or more according to taste 



Remove the outer skins and cut away the root.  Use a kitchen device or cut by hand thin slices lengthways (from top to root end).  Melt the butter over medium high heat in a large pan and drizzle over a little olive oil (this helps to prevent the butter from burning).  When it bubbles, add the bay leaves and lay over half of the onion, sprinkle over the sugar and likewise sprinkle the top evenly with salt.  Add the rest of the onion.  Turn a few times and allow to cook about 15 minutes uncovered.  As the juice from the onion releases then reabsorbs, turn frequently to avoid burning as any burnt onion will transfer its bitterness to the whole batch.


Cover and allow to cook another 15 minutes or so until the onions are soft.  Add most of the orange juice, stir well and continue to cook another 10 minutes.  The juice will absorb somewhat.  


Add a good splash of balsamic vinegar and the red wine, stir well and allow to cook off the alcohol.  Taste and add more salt or sugar if necessary.  After any addition allow the mass to continue to cook a little, adding more orange juice as necessary to keep a thick, product resembling a loose marmalade.


The perfect onion confit has the right balance of salt, sugar and tartness from the vinegar.  None of the characteristics should dominate yet one should notice the sweet tartness that is balanced by the salt.  Though one refers to a confit as a kind of marmalade, onion confit is not very sweet.  The onions may not retain any firmness or crispness, but be meltingly soft!


Serve hot or warm.  I especially like to use onion confit when elsewhere in the dinner menu a fruity element is present such as lamb filets grilled with a garnish of red currents or other summer berries, or served with slices of grilled orange.  A fruity dessert closes such a meal deliciously.


Note:  red wine vinegar or tarragon vinegar can also be used - but adjust the sweetness.


Variations:  For a lighter coloured confit use cooking onions or shallots and apple or tarragon vinegar.  Use honey or white sugar.  Add diced apple at the last 10 minutes of cooking if you like.  Use either orange juice or apple juice as the liquid and white wine optionally in place of red wine.  This is especially nice with light meats and vegetarian dishes.


Berry Onion Confit - add raspberries toward the end and use raspberry vinegar.  Adjust the sweet/salty/tartness ratio.  Black or red currents and current vinegar is also wonderful, add just a touch of cassis liquor toward the end of cooking.  Use white wine or rosť (red wine may be too dominant).


Dark Onion Confit with an exotic touch - cook with a few chopped garlic cloves, add a splash of Soya or Tamara sauce.  A splash of Tobasco sauce, Sambal Olek or cooking the onions with one or more dried red chillies adds a hot nip.  Do not add too much and keep the balance of sweet/salty/tart equal with the hot element in the background.


Once you understand the technique to making your own onion confit, experiment with other fruit combinations such as adding minced prune, a little garlic, perhaps a pinch or more of cinnamon and no wine for a delicious variation perfect with Lamb Tagine or other North African meat dishe.

All recipes are excerpts from "Welcome to My Kitchen" - The Epicurean Table and are copyright of the author.  Recipes are not to be 

added to any form of archive or other works of any kind.  Contact the author for further information.  

The Epicurean Table © 1999-2010  Patricia Conant