You know, I think there are condiment people and non-condiment people. There are people who cannot fathom the idea of loading anything up with ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce, honey, butter or mayonnaise. No judgement, of course. Food is a very personal and intimate thing and no one can (or should) attempt to figure out why some people like certain things a certain way and others are completely opposite. So, for my condiment-adverse comrades, I accept you. I still love you. I am willing to look the other way. However, in turn, please accept that I am a condiment person, through and through.
I love almost any condiment. I don’t think I have met a condiment I didn’t like. Wait, I take that back. I tried Vegimite when I was in Australia and I can easily say that I did not care for that flavor and it is, in fact, an acquired taste. (My cousins, who were born and raised in Australia, love the stuff. When they travel, they are sure to pack a jar of it and insist on their mother sending more in her care packages.) So, yes, I can say that I like most condiments. Condiments are made to make whatever you are eating taste better. A buffalo wing, in my opinion, tastes better with a dollop of blue cheese dressing. A chicken finger tastes better with a hint barbecue sauce or honey mustard. A soft breadstick tastes better with a dunk of marinara sauce.
When I saw this recipe for Balsamic Onion Marmalade, I was hooked. Balsamic vinegar has been quite en vogue, as of late. For good reason, as I see it. It is tart, but has the ability to be sweet as well (as long as you get a reasonably good quality version.) The aged balsamic vinegars are sweet and thick, like a syrup…and can carry quite the hefty price tag. Once you spend a mortgage payment on balsamic vinegar, do you even want to use it? I would end up hoarding mine and it would never see a saucepan or a spoon. Not to fret, however. Good quality balsamic vinegars can be found for reasonable prices. I am not committed to a type, brand or store to buy them, but steer clear of generic megamart versions that are really not what you are looking for as they tend to be very acidic tasting (I find mine at Trader Joe’s, although I know good ones can be sought elsewhere.)
Giada de Laurentiis says that balsamic vinegar can be sweet, “almost like a chocolate sauce.” I do not agree with that. Nor do I want it to be like a chocolate sauce. If it was, I would use chocolate sauce instead of balsamic vinegar! A good balsamic vinegar is a treat in-and-of itself. Tart, sweet, tangy, and worth the search. And Balsamic Onion Marmalade is a condiment that can go with almost anything…sandwiches, bratwursts, salads. Heck, I might consider putting it over ice cream! (Although, I might use chocolate sauce for that instead.)
Balsamic Onion Marmalade
Adapted (slightly) from Tom Colicchio
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 cups thinly sliced onions (about 4-6 medium onions)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup sugar
2/3-1 cup balsamic vinegar
Heat the oil in Dutch oven or large skillet over medium heat. When the oil glides easily across the bottom of the pan, add the onions, salt and pepper. Cook the onions for 20 minutes, stirring them occasionally, until they are soft (the onions should not brown. Turn down the heat if you see any hint of browning or carmelization.) Add the sugar to the pan, stir it into the onions and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, uncovered, for about 10 minutes to allow as much liquid as possible to evaporate. Add the vinegar and reduce the heat to low. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour, until the onions are soft and dry, meaning there is no pooling of liquid in the pan. Serve warm or allow to cool to room temperature.
The marmalade can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks. Put on everything.