Travelling from Dublin, where we lived at the time, via London to Brussels we enjoyed a long drawn out alcoholic dinner with each multinational couple creating a national dish from scratch.
To be honest I do not recall much of the evening, other than watching the New Years Even fireworks from all round the globe on BBC News and Brussels' fireworks going off around 23.30 reputedly because the King of Belgium wanted to go to bed early. I don't remember the food, apart from being introduced to Confit d'Oignon and that it goes with pâté. I am not a fan of sweet chutney, and I was very dubious but the sweet vinegariness of this confit was a perfect accompaniment to the rich liver pate.
15 years on and our 12 year old asked for a meal out at a gastro pub for her birthday. I think she had fish & chips, but I opted for a starter of smoked smoked duck, served with a pot of what now appears to be called 'onion marmalade'. There was just something about this marmalade, sweet and salty with a little hit of spice. I think there was cumin in it but it will only ever remain a guess as the inn never replied to my request for the recipe.
Since then, I have googled high and low looking for an enticing sounding recipe. I have saved a few and will be making and tasting them in turn.
I have made the first two but have yet to taste them, although the smell of smoked paprika in the Saga Magazine recipe smelt delicious. I will be making the third when the others have gone.
Sticky Onion Marmalade by Riverford
This sticky onion marmalade adds a little extra tang to any cheese and biscuit occasion, or great to tie a ribbon around and present as a gift to friends or family. Makes about 2 jars.
3 tbsp olive oil
1kg red or white onions, finely sliced
150g light brown sugar
150ml red wine vinegar
125ml port (or red wine)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt & pepper
Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan. Add the onions and cook very gently for 30 minutes, stirring now and then, until very soft and caramelising. Add a third of the sugar and cook for another 15 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients.
Simmer for about 45 minutes, until the liquid has reduced and the onions are dark and sticky. You should be able to run a wooden spoon through and leave the pan clean underneath.
Pot while hot into warm sterilised jars and seal with vinegar-proof lids. Store in a cool dry place and use within 3 months. Keep in the fridge once opened and use within a couple of weeks.
by Mary Tregellas
Despite its name, this is not one for your breakfast toast, but a fabulous accompaniment to sausages, burgers and strong cheeses. Use it as a cooking ingredient too – a spoonful or two in gravy or casseroles adds a real depth of flavour. Use white sugar or a mixture of white and muscovado sugars for a darker, more treacly result.
Makes about 6–7 x 340g (12 oz) jars
Keeps for 6–9 months
4 tbsp olive oil
2 kg (4 lb 8 oz) red or white onions, thinly sliced
300 g (10½ oz) sugar (white granulated,muscovado or a mixture)
300 ml (10 fl oz) red wine vinegar
250 ml (9 fl oz) red wine
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
Pinch of paprika
Pinch of dried chillies
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan and fry the onions for 10 minutes over a moderate heat.
Add 100 g (3½ oz) of the sugar and cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft. Make sure it does not burn.
Add all the remaining ingredients to the pan and simmer for 25–30 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated, then pot into hot sterilized jars.
TIP All that onion-chopping makes your hands smell.To remove the whiff, rub a few drops of lemon juice onto your hands (or rub the inside of a used lemon shell over your hands).
French Onion Marmalade by A French Girl Cuisine
600g sliced onions
50ml Olive Oil
30ml Red Wine
Chop onions. Heat olive oil in a casserole dish. Cover and cook onions on low heat until they become translucent about 30 minutes. (Tip: If I want to save time and not stay in my kitchen I also add 2 tbsp of water).
When they are well done, add red wine, white sugar as well as salt and pepper. (Tip: Don't add the red wine before the onions are translucent as they will not cook anymore afterwards.)
Leave to cook until no more red wine (about 1 hour).