Archive for Slow Cooker

Confit Onions in the Slow Cooker

I am not a fan of raw onions. Served to me on a salad or a burger, I will pick them off. When you cook the onions, however, it’s a whole different ballgame.

Onions have lots of naturally-occurring sugars, so when you cook them down at a low heat, the most magical thing happens to them. They caramelize, and take on this gorgeous light-brown colour. They become sweet and savoury all at the same time.

confit onions

Yeah, there were a few tears this day…

I make these regularly, and keep them in my fridge. They come out and get added to grilled cheeses (my favourite), any kind of wrap or burrito, burgers, or as a garnish to a piece of baguette topped with a chunk of brie.

You can even can these and give them out as gifts.

I love doing mine in the slow cooker. It just is so easy. Slice ’em up in the food processor, add them along with a few other ingredients, and let it go. 8 hours later, voila! Perfect caramelized onions.

A quick word of warning: it’s kind of shocking how much these cook down. A slow cooker full of onions will net you a cup or two of the good stuff, but it really is a condiment, so you’ll likely only use a tablespoon or two at a time.

Slow-Cooker Confit Onions

Ingredients

  • approximately 2 lbs onions (really, any kind, although purple and Walla Walla are sweeter)
  • 2 tbsp butter or olive oil
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1-2 tbsp port wine
  • 1 tbsp sweetener–maple syrup, brown sugar or molasses
  • 1 tsp thyme, or a couple of fresh spigs

Method: 

  1. Prep the onions by halving and peeling them, then thinly slicing them into half-moon rounds. I did the slicing in the food processor, but you could also do it on a mandolin, or by hand. You will have a large pile of onions.
  2. Dump the onions, along with the rest of the ingredients, into your slow cooker, and turn it up on high. Stir everything together well.
  3. Allow to cook for about 6 hours, stirring occasionally. They onions are done when they achieve a nice caramel colour. Remove the sprig of thyme, if using. If the onions are really watery, you can take the lid off of the slow cooker and cook them for another hour or so until the water evaporates and the onions thicken. Alternatively, you can finish them in a saucepan on top of the stove, boiling them, uncovered, until you get the right consistency.
  4. Store in a jar in the fridge. My 2 lbs of onions boiled down to make enough to fill a 500-ml mason jar.

Also, check out my friend Melissa’s version of this recipe.

 

 

Lobster Bisque

I grew up in the maritimes. I remember very clearly the spring after we moved to Frenchman’s Cove, Newfoundland (pop 200), my dad and I got in the car and drove down the hill to cove. We knocked on the door of the guy who lived beside the post office, and asked him if he had any lobster for sale. He nodded, closed the door, and 5 minutes later, we saw him go out his back door, get into his skiff, and head out onto the bay. We watched from a distance as he pulled some lobster traps, and 15 minutes later, we had a bucket of lobsters.

We drove home and spread newspapers all over our dining room table. My mom threw them into a big pot of boiling water, and that night we stuffed ourselves with lobster.

Here in BC, we’re incredibly lucky to have an abundance of beautiful seafood, but lobster isn’t nearly as plentiful here as it is in the Atlantic. Back in the day in Newfoundland, you could tell the poor kids from the rich kids in school, because the rich kids brought baloney sandwiches to school, and the poor kids brought lobster. Event McDonald’s had a McLobster for a while.

Turns out I haven’t had lobster in a while, and I haven’t cooked with it in much longer. But, just before Christmas, I had lunch with my friend Lili at Yew. Ned Bell is a genius, and I will eat his cooking any day of the week. Plus Yew is… well, let’s just say I love Yew.

I had the Shrimp and Lobster Chowder: Creamy Humpback Shrimp & Lobster Chowder, with Corn, Potatoes, and garnished with Okanagan Apples. So good. My craving was re-awakened.

lobster bisque

As fate would have it, my local grocery store was selling frozen PEI lobsters for $5 a pop last week, so I bought one, and started the experiment.

The hallmark of any good soup begins with its stock, and so that was my first order of business. After defrosting the lobster, I pulled off the claws and tail, and got the meat out of them. Then I fired the body, along with the shells of the lobster and some garlic, onions and parsley, into my slow cooker on low for about 12 hours. The result? Concentrated lobster goodness.

This is a very simple soup. Besides the lobster, it incorporates a mirepoix, the killer stock, wine, and hint of heat. When it’s done, you puree it with cream. The final product, however, is a beautiful balance of sweet lobster and cream, the acidity of the wine, and the tiniest punch from the paprika at the end.

Good thing I made a lot.

Lobster Bisque

Ingredients:

  • one lobster (already cooked)
  • 3 Tbsps butter
  • 1medium onion, chopped chopped
  • 2-3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 Tbsps tomato paste
  • 3 Tbsps flour
  • 4 cups seafood or lobster stock
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme)
  • whipping cream or half-and-half
  • salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Method: 

Melt the butter in a large soup pot, and then add the onions and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery and the tomato paste, season and stir well, then add the garlic. Make sure the heat is not too high, as you don’t want to burn the garlic. Let this cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the flour and stir well, until all the vegetables are coated. Next, add the stock, wine, herbs and spices and the reserved lobster meat (you may want to save some whole pieces for garnishing later on). Allow to simmer for about 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Test for seasoning again.

Puree the soup until smooth, then return it to the pot, add the cream, and gently reheat. Adjust the seasonings, and serve.

 

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