What to do with ten kilos of onions

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Have you ever ordered something in a half-asleep kind of way?

A few weeks ago when ordering pie ingredients from Cardiff Market  I ended up with about 10kg of onions in excess even after cooking many caramelised onion pies. In the process of making the order I was wearing my astute-business-woman face, hiding tiredness from a long day at work. And the only thing I heard the helpful man say was ‘very little money for a lot of onions’ to which of course I said ‘yes’. It is unlike me to be imprecise with orders (on food or anything really) but this wonderful mistake gave me the opportunity to experiment cooking with a lot of onions within a short period of time.

Admittedly Dan and I will not have onion soup again for a while. But we gratefully savoured its thyme and wine flavours during a May week when the weather had turned bad, we got ill and the heating came on again.  French onion soup recipes online are plenty but my version is closest to Elise Bauer’s one on Simply Recipes because I also use no butter. And on occasion I choose to leave out the garlic and also make Gruyere cheese toast on granary bread instead of baguette croutons.

The bulk of my excess onions however I turned into a spiced onion chutney. I almost followed a recipe from Allotment Growing Recipes   but did not use as much sugar and added ground pimento berries, bay leaves, port and red wine. The result is a fragrant onion chutney that compliments strong and piquant cheeses competently and also works well with beef burgers.  I converted and amended the recipe below for you.

Ingredients
Make up to 9 medium jars and about 4Kg of Chutney.

5kg onions (peeled and chopped)
800gr dark brown sugar
9 Tbsp olive oil
3 lemons, juiced
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tsp ground nutmeg
3 tsp ground ginger
6 tsp ground coriander
3 tsp ground cloves
6 tsp salt
3 tsp black pepper and pimento berries ground together
9 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
6 Tbsp malt vinegar
1 shot of red wine
1-2 shots of port

Preparation and jarring
At least 4 hours

Heat the oil in a 5lt pot, add onions and sauté for at least 10 minutes stirring occasionally.

Add the vinegars, lemon juice and spices and cook for 2 minutes.

Add sugar and then simmer uncovered for at least 3 hours.

Half way through cooking add the wine and port.

The chutney is ready when the liquid is reduced even if not fully evaporated- it will thicken when you stir.

About half an hour before the chutney is done sterilise jars.

Boil clean jars and their lids in bubbling water for 10 minutes.

Whilst doing that preheat the oven at 110 centigrade.

Line a baking tray with a clean towel.

Place the jars upside down on the tray using metal tongs.

Leave in the over for 15 minutes.

Ladle the chutney into hot, sterilised jars and seal immediately.

Label the jars when fully cool.

The chutney should keep for a year.

Lia’s Notes:

  • Be prepared to peel and chop 5 Kg of onions for about hour if you have as small a kitchen as mine.
  • I added the vinegars and lemons half an hour in the cooking process is as I was adding and sautéing onions gradually.
  • Leave the lid off!
  • Keep on low heat and stir regularly. Caramelised is good and burnt is bad.
  • I put 800gr sugar but next time I’ll use less.
  • Keep the jars in the oven if you have to wait a bit longer for the chutney to cook. The jars need to be hot if you are filling with hot chutney.
  • Good instructions for sterilising can be found on Taste.com, an Australian website.
  • The simple rule of jarring is to never add hot chutney to a cold jar and vice versa.
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