Making the makings
November 8, 2013
It’s amazing how one thing just leads to another in the kitchen.
I set about caramelizing a crock-pot full of onions t’other day. Regular readers will recall I am a fan of taking a boatload of onions, slicing them thinly, and packing as many as I can in my crockpot with a stick of butter and a little salt. That and 18 hours on low gives you perfectly caramelized onions, which you can then parcel out into small containers and freeze, against the day you want French onion soup.
There are two other major ingredients for French onion soup: Red wine, which I generally have on hand, and beef broth, which I generally don’t, so I wind up using the Orrington Farms beef broth base. But said quarter-cow who was delivered last week had with him several packages of soup bones.
So I said to myself, “Self? Why don’t you just go on and make you some homemade beef stock, while you’re about it, and then you’ll have the two major items to go along with the third major item you’ll have anyway, if you don’t drink it all?” And self agreed that was a reasonably good idea, particularly as I was making all sorts of things on a kitchen Saturday, anyway.
Note: I know conventional wisdom would have you put white wine in French onion soup. I like it better with red. Sue me. (As an aside, I had it recently made with neither white nor red wine, but with bourbon, and that wasn’t half bad, either; being that I have bourbon in the liquor cabinet, I may make it with that.)
So I fetched a package of Mr. Cow’s (actually, Mr. Steer’s) soup bones from the freezer. Gave ’em a quick sear in olive oil in my Dutch oven (still frozen; doesn’t matter, as all you want is a little browning on the outside, and I didn’t feel like waiting for them to thaw). I added a quartered onion, four peeled cloves of garlic, and a gallon of water, some salt and pepper, and set it to boil; when it did, I turned it down to low, stuck a lid on it, and went away. I went back and turned off the heat, waited a couple of hours, and stashed the whole pot in the fridge.
Next morning, I got it out and picked out the hardened fat on the top, then strained the broth and put it in pint containers, from whence it went into the freezer. And when I want French onion soup, I can get a pint of broth and a cup of onions out of the freezer, toss both into a saucepan, splash in a little wine and a bay leaf, and fuhgeddaboutit for 15 minutes. Then, voila, soup!
You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em could have soup any time you wanted it. Or you could come see me.