No, for those who are wondering I am not an emotional wreck today, I have merely been cutting onions. Over the years I have pretty much tried everything to stop the tears flowing when cutting onions including: wearing glasses, sticking out my tongue and putting a spoon in my mouth, but in the end it always seems more hassle than it’s worth and it doesn’t always work. Subsequently, for roughly five minutes this morning as I peeled some red onions I had tears running down my cheeks.
Today I have been trying to recreate a Red Onion & Port Marmalade that I made two weeks ago on a bit of a whim. I had seen some red onions for sale in the market which looked pretty good, so I thought why not try something new that would work well with cheese – the end result was a red onion & port marmalade. The major problem I have in the kitchen when I try out a new recipe is I never write down what it is I am doing especially quantities of ingredients (this is partly because I largely cook by eye and by tasting things regularly). So when the first of the 3 pots of the onion marmalade was opened and finished in less than a day last week and the second pot quickly disappeared too, I thought I had better try and work out what exactly I did before all memory of what I’d done disappeared.
The first thing I should mention is that in the first batch I made, I used up a rather old bottle of port that had been lying around for years called Sao Pedro (aged for 10) years which had a lovely strong flavour and really good smell which really came out in the marmalade. However, this morning I used a somewhat cheaper Tawny port, that was much sweeter and in my opinion far less fragrant. But that being said they both have worked well despite tasting slightly different. So I would say depending on your budget or what you have left lying around it doesn’t really matter what type of port you use.
Red Onion & Port Marmalade
- 5tbsp olive oil
- 2.4kg (weight after being peeled)
- 2tsp thyme
- 500g brown sugar
- 250ml port and ½ small wine glass of port
- 350ml balsamic vinegar
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- Sterilise some jam jars ready for use once your onion marmalade is made.
- Finely slice the onions (I use a food processer to do this for ease).
- Place the olive oil in a large saucepan and warm on a low heat.
- Add the onions and half of the sugar to the pan and stir. Cover with a lid and leave the onions to soften slowly, stirring occasionally.
- Once the onions are soft, add the thyme, salt and pepper, balsamic vinegar and the remaining sugar. Turn up the heat a little and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally to make sure the mixture doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan.
- After about 5-10 minutes add the port (keeping back the port in the wine glass as you’ll need this later) and stir together.
- Now it is a waiting game, as you stir your pan occasionally until the liquid has reduced down so there is only a little liquid left in the pan.
- When you think your onion marmalade is almost ready give it a little taste to see if it needs a little more seasoning, before you add the remaining port (if you think it needs it) that you have held back in the wine glass, stir the port in and cook for a further 5-10 minutes before removing from the heat and placing in the sterilised jam jars for storing.
Ideas for what to serve the Red Onion & Port Marmalade with…
All of the ideas I have for the Red Onion & Port Marmalade involve cheese as that is what I originally had in mind when I first made it. I made both of the following recipes as a starter as they were good to share amongst a large number of people…
Goats Cheese and Red Onion & Port Marmalade Tarts (makes 4 small tarts)
- 1 packet of pre-rolled puff pastry
- 200g of soft goats cheese (remove any rind)
- 14-16 cherry tomatoes (halved)
- 4 heaped tsp of the red onion & port marmalade
- Olive oil for drizzling
- Black pepper for seasoning
- 1 small egg
- Preheat oven to 190C fan.
- Lightly flour 4 individual tart tins (12cm diameter).
- Roughly cut the puff pastry into four pieces and place in the tart tins.
- Spread 1 heaped teaspoon of the onion marmalade on the bottom of each of the individual tarts.
- Cut the goats cheese into small chunks and distribute equally between the tarts along with the cherry tomatoes, drizzle over a little olive oil and add a little black pepper.
- Finally beat the egg in a small bowl and using a pastry brush, lightly brush some of the egg wash over the exposed pastry.
- Place in the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes (until the pastry is golden brown and the cheese is melted).
Baked Cheese Parcel served with Red Onion & Port Marmalade
- Preheat oven to 190C fan.
- Using a fork prick the top of the cheese you are using 6 times through to the middle of the cheese.
- Place the cheese in the centre of the pastry.
- You now need to make the cheese into a parcel, I do this by cutting the pastry into 8 segments and then folding the gently into the middle of the cheese and cutting off any excess.
- Finally beat the egg in a small bowl and using a pastry brush, lightly brush some of the egg wash all over the pastry.
- Place in the oven and cook for 20-22 minutes (until the pastry is golden brown and the cheese is melted).
- Remove from the oven and serve with the red onion & port marmalade, french bread and carrot batons.