I believe in cooking from scratch and making delicious food prepared from fresh ingredients, ideally seasonal and locally sourced. That’s also the approach embraced by Huge Fearnley-Whittingstall. Even without looking past the table of contents in his book River Cottage Every Day, I am sold. I am excited seeing these chapters: daily bread, fish forever, vegetables galore and the whole fruit. His approach and recipes speak to me at all levels. This is a cool beginning cooking with Huge, the current featured chef at IHCC for the next six months.
This is a lovely and simple (five ingredients only) side dish that goes with everything. Or as a relish for cheese. It is a perfect accompaniment to the lentil and eggplant dishes that we had for an early dinner the night before. Not considering the longer time it takes for roasting, this dish is easier to do than caramelizing onions on the stovetop. And the red onions have a bigger presence. The wine plumps up the onions. I used sweet vermouth instead of port, since that’s what I have around. Sherry, madeira, marsala and sweet red wine are all wonderful substitutions.
I made the dish twice. The key is to roast the red onions just right so that they are juicy and vibrant. I did not quite get that the first time. They were on the dry side. Recipes are just guidance, there are so many variables that change from kitchen to kitchen, equipment to equipment. There are huge margins for execution errors.
In the second round, I used a smaller cast iron pan and added (30%) humidity as they roasted in a convection steam oven. Another suggestion would be to roast the red onions longer under wrap before removing the foil cover to ensure the red onions are thoroughly moistened and softened. (The recipe calls for roasting at 325°F covered for 45 minutes and uncovered for an additional 30 minutes.) The resulting taste and texture of the red onions were much better. Second time’s the charm.