If you’ve been reading along here, you know I’m a big fan of pickles.
While it’s all cold and dreary, I try to amuse myself with little kitchen projects – the kind of food I might appreciate later in the year. One of those projects, and a real pain in the <ahem> – is pickling cocktail onions. But oh so worth it – a few minutes with scissors or a paring knife and slippery, teeny onions, and you’ll have a jar full of perfect pickled orbs. Enough for quite awhile.
While I love a great martini, and a dry, crisp, cold martini served in a classic glass with the perfect olive is a thing of beauty… the Gibson is my favorite liquid companion for a charcuterie board. Especially bresaola, with the juniper tones ringing through.
Next time you’re at the store pick up the small net bag of those pearly white onions. Dig around the bin for the smallest, firmest onions you can find. Hint: in early spring, talk to your farmers. Often, they’ll bring you the little onions they thin out of rows – those are perfect for pickling and need no peeling or pre-boiling. Winning!
PS Speaking of pickles, did you see my giardiniera article in last Wednesday’s New York Times Dining and Wine section? So darn exciting!
1 bag of small pearl white onions, preferably organic
1 c clean water (beware tap water with a high chlorine content)
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 T maple sugar, maple syrup or dark honey
3 juniper berries
1 allspice berry
1 cardamom pod, opened and the seeds scraped out
2 bay leaves
Two large pieces of lemon peel
Cut a shallow X in the root end of each onion and drop into a small saucepan.
Cover the onions with water and a generous pinch of salt.
Boil for 5 minutes.
Strain the onions, then rinse well in cold water.
Shock the onions in ice water to stop the cooking.
Using kitchen scissors, snip the root end off each onion, and the very tip if it’s sprouted or browning, Remove the outside peel to reveal a perfect white onion.
Drop the onions into the sterilized jar or jars.
Make a brine by heating the remaining ingredients to just below a boil.
Cover the onions with the hot brine. You may have brine left over, don’t worry, but do make sure all the seeds and leaves are in the ja/s.
Cool the onions, then refrigerate. The pickles will be ready to eat in about a week and have lasted in my refrigerator for more than six months.
If you are a fabulous jar hoarder (I’m looking at you!) select one of the particularly darling ones, and fill it with these charming onions. They make a great gift.