Few vegetables are as loved for their flavor versatility than the onion. Try to imagine cooking without them? Years ago, when a disease decimated the crop in India, the price for onions tripled. There were mass riots in the streets because of it. Would we do that for broccoli? Lettuce? Celery?
Onions are a staple in a very unique way. Unlike potatoes, wheat, and rice which are essential for their caloric factors….onions are for the flavor they impart to our humble taste buds. They can be hot and spicy —making our eyes water with their pungency. Or, if they are treated gently, and cooked slowly….they can give a richness of flavor and sweetness nothing can rival. I would riot in the street for onions.
I have made an onion marmalade with balsamic vinegar, asiago cheese and pecans and served it over simple hamburgers. Nothing short of dazzling! It is very good, but it does take at least 2 hours to prepare.
So I wanted to find a way to have that fabulous sweetness without tending it on the stove so it wouldn’t burn….. Enter roasting. I could roast them but how to boost the flavor even more? Instead of using olive oil, I decided to top the chopped onion with uncooked bacon and let them roast together. The bacon fat mingling with the roasting onion…. Add a generous sprinkling of thyme and fresh ground black pepper and let the oven work its “hands free” wonders. My mouth was already watering!
When I removed the sheet pan, the onions were nicely collapsed and the bacon cooked. Small areas were caramelized and others a deep brown. Don’t let these brown spots go for naught. By taking the onion and bacon drippings and scraping over these areas, I was able to add the richness of flavor to the whole pan.
After everything had cooled down, I removed the bacon slices and chopped them into 1/2 long pieces. Now, add some aged balsamic, and a bit of good mustard (I used a chipotle flavor). Since I already had a good bit of fat mixed in the onions, I used a light sour cream and plain nonfat yogurt as the dairy portion. To top it all, some fresh chopped chives and lemon thyme from the garden. Mixed it all and refrigerate while the flavors bloom. This whole process took about an hour with most of the time in the oven. When my husband tasted it, I heard the tell tale sighs…. Success!
3 sweet yellow onions, chopped
8-10 slices of good quality bacon separated
1-2 tsp dried thyme, crushed
fresh ground black pepper
1-2 tsp aged balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs mustard (your choice– dijon, stoneground, I used a fire roasted chipotle one)
1-2 Tbs fresh chives, sliced
1 Tbs fresh thyme leaves, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
While the oven heats up, chop the onion and spread out over a 1/2 sheet baking pan. Lay out the bacon slices over the onion. Sprinkle generously with the dried thyme and fresh ground pepper. Roast for 35-45 minutes. Start checking it after 30 minutes to make sure it doesn’t burn. Get your thyme and chives ready.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Scrap up any darken spots with spatula and drippings from the pan and incorporate into the mixture. Remove the bacon slices and cut into 1/2 inch pieces and return to the onions. Place baked mixture into a medium size mixing bowl. Add lite sour cream and plain yogurt. Stir well. Check seasonings and add salt and pepper to taste. Add fresh thyme and chives. Stir again and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
We took this to a party and served it with pita chips. Good thing I saved a bit at home, our host looked at me and said “Now you’re leaving this here….right?” I had my last bit the next day on a toasted ham and cheese sandwich….YUM!
Imagine this on baked potatoes, pasta, any roasted veggies, chicken salad…Need I say more?