Chopping onions has always been my cathartic practice for unlocking my bottled up emotions. I know it sounds ominous but the truth be told, I am not a crier, but put an onion, or shallot in front of me and I am weeping like a baby. Giant alligator tears streaming down my face. One look at me when entering the kitchen cues a backwards tippy toe walk out.
But I love onions. I am that friend ordering extra onions on their salad or burger. It is a flavor so deep rooted in my childhood. The aromas of caramelizing onions wafting from the kitchen as we come downstairs for dinner. My mother too loves onions. And to be completely honest, while the world was hording Clorox Wipes and toilet paper, I had purchased 25 pounds of onions for my lock down. I chuckle now looking back. I was determined to have onions through it all to ensure my broths and roasts were flavorful. In deep reflection, most everything involves an onion to start it flavor base. Sauces, stocks, broths, roasts, all begin with a few chopped onions.
I was a mad woman. I was convinced like most the world was about to stop. I sat in our basement at my husband’s shop desk stuffing each individual onion in a pair of panty hose. Each onion dropping with a spring from the hose to the bottom, and then tying a knot between each one. Onion numbs chucks whirling around between knotting. Watch out! I was in full survival pioneer woman mode. Thankful I snapped out fairly quickly. I hung the newly strung aromatic curtains on a close hook in the corner. I thought out of the way, but later it was only out of my way and not my husbands. About week three of shelter at home, he had had enough bopping and dodging of the onion chandelier hanging by his tools.
Alas, I heard his bellows from below and starting clipping onions from their strands. And in one day I managed to use ten pounds for onion jam, umani concentrate, and onion soup. My eyes were raw and achy at the end. Comically, it was a totally backfire to my husband who subtly expressed the smell of onion in his work space was overwhelming, only to discover after my day of onion therapy, the whole house smelt of onions – the sweet savory smell greeted you at the door triggering your mouth to water. But that smell was short lived with poetic pleasantry as it latched onto our pillow, our bed sheets, my hair, and our clothes. A moment of sweet wife justice, the smell in a small corner was now potpourri for the entire house.
Nonetheless, the silver lining through it all was discovery of some amazing onion recipes. One being the caramelized onion and bacon dip featured today. This is not a dip you whip together in a short time frame. This is a dip that highlights the sweet candied like beauty you get from properly caramelizing and roasting onions with the great punctuation of bacon. The base of this dip is dairy: sour cream and mayo, which means you also need to allow it to sit for a short time frame to build the flavor. This deep is super good on the second day. And if you have any left on the third day, add buttermilk to it and make it a salad dressing! Two in one recipe are always my favorite.
First – caramelizing onions. It takes time to caramelize onions. Most recipes will indicate a small window of 10 minutes, in reality it’s more like 30 minutes to an hour. The time is worth it though. Allowing the natural sugars to caramlize given the onions this beautiful flavor and color. Giving you a sweet and savory profile. As I was torching my soul chopping those onions, my usually podcast was playing in the background. A new episode started all about caramelizing onions – needless to say, I erupted with laughter.
Caramelized Onion & Bacon Dip
- 4 large onions, quartered, thinly sliced – 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
- 4 sprigs thyme – kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil – 2 Tbsp. bacon grease
- 1 c. dry white wine – 3 Tbsp. Sherry vinegar
- 2 c. sour cream – ¼ c. mayonnaise
- 2 tsp. onion powder – 2 tsp. ranch seasoning
- ¼ c. fresh chives, minced – 6 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
- fried onions, optional for garnish – everything bagel seasoning, optional for garnish
1.Preheat oven to 425F. Mix onions, shallots, thyme sprigs, oil, and bacon grease in a large roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper. Roast onion mixture, stirring and scraping down sides of pan every 15 minutes until mixture starts to break down and turn golden brown. Time frame about 45- 55 minutes.
2. Pull mixture from oven. Discard the thyme sprigs. Add wine and 2 Tbsp of sherry vinegar, stir to scrape up any browned bits from bottom of pan. Return onion mixture to oven. Continue roasting, stirring occasionally until a deep golden brown and completely caramelized. About 15 – 20 minutes. Spread onion mixture out on a rimmed baking sheet to cool.
3. While onion mixture is cooling, in a medium bowl mix sour cream, mayonnaise, chives, bacon, 1 Tbsp sherry vinegar, onion powder and ranch seasoning. Season with salt and pepper. Once the onion mixture is cool, transfer to cutting board and mince. Add onion mixture to the sour cream mix. Dip is complete. Let sit in fridge for at least an hour. Garnish with bacon crumbles, fried onions, or everything bagel seasoning.
NOTE: Dip can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill. Flavors will develop as it sits. If making for day of service, allow it to sit at least 1 hour for flavors to develop. Serve with veggies, pretzels, crackers, even bread. Put it on your sandwich.
Adapted from Food and Wine Recipe.