Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Onions, Onions everywhere! French Onion Dip and Onion Jam served with Pork Tenderloin

Over the 4th of July holiday, I was looking for an easy, yet delicious dip to bring to a party. As I had a friend in town that I wanted to keep entertained while I cooked, I didn't want it to be too complex. I decided to make a take on French Onion dip. Through this I realized how satisfying it is to caramelize onions, as you slowly watch them turn from their white, crunchy state into that beautiful brown, soft mass. Though I didn't think to take photos of the dip, it turned out beautifully, a mixture of the onions with a little garlic and thyme, salt and pepper, then mixed with sour cream, with a little fresh lemon zest mixed in to brighten the flavors a bit. Served with lots of fresh veggies, and those very tasty Kettle Chips- it was a nice addition to a party that had all sorts of tasty treats.

Last night I got the idea to make something of an onion jam to be served with a beautiful pork tenderloin I had purchased. To start off, I preheated my oven to 375, and then gently massaged salt, pepper, cinnamon and vegetable oil on the loin. When it was nicely covered, and the oven was pre heated, I placed it in the oven and let it do its thing. Then I set to work on some accompaniments.

First, I whipped up a quick dip using garlic, small white beans, lots of parsley, salt and pepper. After a rough chop of the garlic and parsley, I added them to my food processor with the salt and pepper. I added the beans, turned on the machine, and slowly started adding some olive oil to the mix. Just about a minute later I had a nice bean dip, with tons of flavor. Garlicky and fresh with parsley, it was a lovely healthy dip. I then toasted up some fresh French Bread rounds on my cast iron grill pan, and served them together as a little appetizer.

Then I got to start on my interpretation of Onion Jam. I thinly sliced about a half of a white onion. Looking back now-I probably should have just done the whole thing. Then in a small pan over a very low flame I melted a bit of butter, to add richness, with a little salt and pepper- to draw the water out, and to add some flavor. Once the butter had melted, I added the onions. Caramelizing onions takes time, and patience. The only way I can get them to properly caramelize is to keep them over very low heat, and stir very frequently so that they don't burn- or get at all crispy. As the onions started to cook down, I added in some fresh chopped sage, and then as they turned a light brown, I added chopped dried cranberries. As the cranberries began to break down, I added a few tablespoons of apple juice to the pan and let it absorb into the onions- soon I had a really beautiful combination of the brown onions, the red cranberries, and the beautiful green sage. Just at the end of cooking, I added a quick handful of sliced almonds for texture.

Finally, after about an hour and twenty minutes of cooking, with a few bastings with apple juice (I still love the idea of pork chops and apple sauce), the pork was finished. I quickly sauteed some spinach with garlic, and dinner was complete.

I served slices of the pork dressed with just a little of the onion "jam" on the plates, with a side of spinach. The pork had delicious flavor with the cinnamon rub, though I had left it in the oven a hair too long. The onion jam though- it really brought the meal together. Soft and sweet, the onions mixed beautifully with that wonderfully earthy sage, and the slight tartness of the cranberries. The almonds provided a nice crunch to the dish that without I think it would have been pretty monotone. I found the dish really delicious, an all star had the pork been not quite so well done.

My real praise though? My DC asked for seconds-of all- and doesn't even like onions. I feel as though that is a real accomplishment.


Unknown said...

This dip sounds fantastic... like a grown up version of the Lipton Soup dip!
I'm a huge fan of carmelizing onions... they're also really good done with stock and a touch of honey at the end to sweeten them up.

Boston Food Diary said...

Thanks! It was good!

Oh good idea on the stock! There are sooo many good uses for it!

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