The Little Onion That Could

Somewhere inside all of us is a very special place – a place where our imagination coddles and cares for our hopes and dreams. A place where ambition can no longer lay dormant and our existence must carry out the very thing we’ve always known we were born to see through.

On our most recent trip to California’s Central Coast – whether by luck or by fate – we stumbled across an absolute gem serving the best pork sandwiches we’ve ever had, sans the ones we make at home. We were moved – by the space, by the chef’s beliefs and by the integrity of every single ingredient we’d put in our mouths. Standing before me was 300 square feet of pure genius and inspiration. Chef Pink and wife Courtney Rae DeLongpre spend most of their very long days serving sandwiches made from locally-sourced ingredients, using each pig from hoof to snout and ensuring they have 0% food waste at Bacon & Brine. Courtney’s passion for fermented foods has given birth to some incredible pickles, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha adding the perfect, pickled touch to the decadent cuts of pork.

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Chef’s love for food and the authentic farm-to-table process really moved us. It rattled our insides and reignited the spark of our long time dream of owning our own sandwich shop. It reinstilled the importance of what an ingredient can do for you if you’ll only let it. With that, we returned home with not only an intense craving for comfort food, but with the understanding that every every ingredient we purchased should be utilized at maximum capacity. And so begins the tale of how 1 lonely onion helped feed us for 3 days.

Marcella Hazan’s famous tomato sauce is almost always the foundation of any tomato-based pasta dish we create, from Amatriciana to Catanzaro. Needless to say, there have been many onions that have arrived to our kitchen with high hopes, just to be used for their flavor and then tossed aside. Not this time.

Into the pot went:
1 28-oz can San Marzano Tomatoes
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
6 tablespoons of butter
salt

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The sauce was left to simmer for a little over an hour, developing incredible flavor and emitting the smell of “Sunday Supper”. Once it reached desired thickness and flavor, the onions were pulled from the pot and left to cool before being stored in an air tight container and refrigerated. The sauce was used as the basis for our Spaghetti Catanzaro.

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Dinner came and went as did our last dose of carbs and a bottle of Roblar
Grassetto. Monday took off running and before we knew it, happy hour was quickly approaching and there was not a dinner plan in sight. Then we remembered our post-Bacon & Brine promise – use the onions.

…And the onions we used. We chopped and caramelized the tender, butter and tomato flavored onions with garlic and thyme.

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Once evenly coated in olive oil and fully translucent, garlic, thyme and a sprig of rosemary were added. Deep, golden brown pieces began sticking to the pan and chicken stock was used to deglaze.

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The caramelized onions were used as the main flavor component in my frequently made French Onion Chicken.

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Most of the dishes cooked in my dutch oven have multiple flavor components that are often layered, taking over an hour to prepare. Because my onions had been precooked in the previous night’s tomato sauce, this Monday night meal was fast and easy, coming in at a record “dutch oven” time of 45 minutes. The only problem (if you can even call it one) were the leftovers.

And so begins the finale of The Little Onion That Could.

Along came Wednesday and a mid-week dinner with family was in order. With little time to prepare, I quickly removed the remaining chicken pieces from the dutch oven, pulled it off the bone and set it aside, while reheating the sauce. A pour of extra chicken stock, drizzle of whipping cream and some additional reducing gave birth to the sauce of a Chicken Broccoli Casserole.

Into the oven went the layered dish…

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 …and into our stomachs went the last bit of The Little Onion That Could.

This post was not intended to highlight the above recipes, but if you’d like a copy of the recipes mentioned in this post, please email stefab85@gmail.com.

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@Stefab85

*To learn more about Bacon & Brine, click here.

*A lifetime of habits can be difficult to change, but food waste is not just about your wallet, it’s about the effect it has on us all. To learn more on how you can reduce waste in your kitchen, click here.

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