It’s too hot to eat anything other than feta, radish and cucumber salad at the moment, and my fridge spends its empty days waiting until I’ve re-stocked a small batch of these ingredients again from the evening market. I haven’t yet tired of mixing around the addition of mint or dill, radish or tomato, chorizo or goats’ cheese to any of these combinations. What makes me relish these table picnics even more is the introduction of an oat cake and my home made onion marmalade, which is just sticky and sweet and burgundy enough to tart up the flavours of any cheese-based salad. It is also one to keep in the fridge for warm, roasted meats. This recipe is a combination of a couple I found, and is all the better for adding the vinegars at the end of the slow cooking, so’s to keep a proper kick in the jar. If you’re one for dousing your fish and chips with vinegar and feeling the choking vapour at the back of your mouth, then follow this recipe well. If less so, maybe add them a little earlier and let them evaporate, though note that you will lose some of the sharp flavours well paired with red onions.
Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat in a large, steel-bottomed pan and add 6 large red onions, peeled and finely sliced. Add 3 or 4 clove stems and a few grinds of black pepper. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and allow to cook through very slowly, stirring occasionally. It’s vital you don’t rush the onions as their slow cooking will caramelise and develop their flavour, as well as reducing the texture to the right consistency. This really should take 30-40 minutes until wilted and starting to colour.
Add 200g of brown sugar and tun up the heat to dissolve, stirring well. Remove the lid and stir frequently throughout the next 25-30 minutes until the mixture is dark brown and thicker. Remove the pan from the heat and cool aside for a few minutes. Add 300ml of red or white wine vinegar and 50ml of balsamic vinegar and return it to the heat for 10 more minutes until gooey. Drawing a spoon across the bottom of the pan should leave a clear track across the base for a couple of seconds.
Remove from the heat and spoon into sterilised jars, turning upside down once the lid is sealed. Store in the fridge and eat with cheese, meats and salads. Especially good finished with fresh cherries and amaretti biscuits.