Thursday, December 8, 2011

Quick Pickled Onions

Oh how I love pickles. They are deliciously pungent, tart, salty, sometimes a little sweet and have the best crunch.   They can add so much flavor and dimension to so many recipes.  But you know what my favorite part of the pickle is, those onions and garlic that have been shoved inside the jars to give the cucumbers, peppers and whatnot all their flavor.  Yum.  Tiny pearled pickled onions are the BEST.  My absolute fav.  I will pick those out of my spicy hot Giardiniera jars first followed closely by the califlower. I'm not alone here, am I?

When I stumbled across this recipe on NPR the other day I knew I had to give them a try.  Quick Pickled Onions?  Really?!  How fun!  These things are ready and able to be eaten as soon as they completely cool. There isn't a long curing time like with some pickling recipes- only 25 minutes.  I can handle that. I was making a Mustard and Vinegar BBQ Chicken tonight (I'll give you guys that recipe tomorrow!) and thought they would make a fun new accompaniment instead of the slaw I generally make.

The first time we ate these I wasn't too sure about the cumin flavor, it felt a little too strong and they were very sharp tasting and a little too vinegary.  Still good, but I felt the recipe might need some tweaking.  Until the next day, that is.  I tried them again on my leftover chicken and they. were. perfect. Cold, crunchy, salty, tart, and just the right amount of seasoning.  The cumin was no longer overly pronounced, just a light smokey flavor that really did add to the onions nicely.  So next time I make them I will definitely give the onions more time to get icy cold in the fridge before serving.  Now when i walk past the fridge I can't help snatching a few every now and then!  They would have been dangerous when I was pregnant and really craving vinegar flavors!

We originally had them on the pulled chicken sandwiches.  But they are also yummy topped on a burger, tossed in a salad, and today I added them to my tuna sandwich.  Anywhere you want a little of the pickle flavor without committing to a full blown (cucumber) pickle, these are your guys.

Quick Pickled Onions
recipe courtesy NPR

2 cups apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 medium onions, about 1 1/4 pound (red onions turn a beautiful pink when pickled)

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a medium saucepan, and place over medium heat.

While the brine heats, prepare the onions. Peel and trim them, and cut them in half from root to stem end. Then slice each half as thinly as you can into half-moons. Ideally, no slice should be thicker than 1/4 inch.

When you've finished slicing the onions, check the brine. If it isn't boiling, increase the heat to high. When the brine boils, add the onion slices all at once, and stir to combine. Immediately remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let stand for about 25 minutes.

Transfer the onions and brine to a large bowl, and set aside to cool at room temperature. (Or, if you're in a hurry, put the bowl in the refrigerator.) When the onions are fully cooled, pour them and their brine into jars with tight-fitting lids, and store in the refrigerator. Unlike other types, these quick pickles are ready to be eaten as soon as they are fully cold.

These pickles will keep, chilled, for up to 2 weeks.

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