Monday, November 12, 2012

Sweet Cider-Onion Marmalade: A Twist on Tradition Thanksgiving

The word marmalade tends to conjure up images of shiny citrus preserves slathered on a piece of warm bread.

This marmalade, however, stars onions.

I first tried a jammy red wine--onion marmalade at a restaurant called Trellis in Washington State. But for my cookbook, Dishing Up® Oregon, I wanted to give the condiment a distinctly Oregon spin. So I developed a similar recipe using one of my favorite fall market finds: hard apple cider from Wandering Aengus Ciderworks.

The recipe starts with slow cooking the onions in a mixture of butter, olive oil, sugar, and salt; the process is slow, and those onions need babysitting or they will burn. Many minutes later, you’ll add that cider – from Wandering Aengus or your favorite local cidery – along with fresh orange juice, orange zest, honey, and thyme.

Then you have to let it simmer, and darn it if you don't take a taste of those onions now and then, just to see how the whole thing's progressing. Eventually, you'll snitch a bit from the pot and intuitively know that your work is done. Then you'll sample a spoonful, just to make sure it's ready, and the flavors will jump out at you one after another - first the assertive citrus notes, then the subtle hint of thyme, the sweet, lingering taste of the honey, and the faintly fruity flavor of the cider.

I wouldn't blame you if you ate the whole pot of marmalade that way, spoonful after delightful spoonful. But then you'd miss out on the marmalade’s many uses. It’s an unexpected cheese plate condiment, an upscale upgrade for a grilled cheese sandwich, and a substitute for tomato sauce on a rustic pizza topped with soft goat cheese and paper-thin slices of pears.

And like those other marmalades, it’s also perfectly content to be served simply atop a slice of toasted bread.

Sweet Cider-Onion Marmalade

Makes about 5 cups

2 cups fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 red onions, thinly sliced
2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
3/4 cup hard apple cider
1/3 cup honey
Zest from 1 orange
Leaves from 5 fresh thyme sprigs 

  1. Bring the orange juice to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Continue to simmer until the orange juice has reduced to 1/2 cup, about 30 minutes. Cover and set aside.
  2. Warm the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the red onions, yellow onions, sugar, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent and soft, about 20 minutes.
  3. Stir in the cider and reduced orange juice. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Stir in the honey, orange zest, and thyme and cook for 5 minutes longer. Taste and adjust salt as needed.
  4. Use the marmalade immediately or cool and transfer to an airtight container. Stored in the refrigerator, the marmalade will keep for about 1 week. 
Excerpted from Dishing Up® Oregon © 2011 by Ashley Gartland. All rights reserved.

Go to: A Twist on Tradition Thanksgiving Menu for more great Thanksgiving recipes.

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