Monday, November 5, 2012

Are you ready for some condiments?

I'm not talking about your plain jane, boring ketchup or ho-hum mustard.  And, not that mundane mayo either.  No, I mean things like Caramelized Onion Marmalade and Spicy Garlic Aioli.  The condiments that can make or break a good panini, and have you wondering why you are just now meeting them.  I take all the blame for that, I should have introduced you before.  My apologies!

Let's start with the Caramelized Onion Marmalade.  This lovely little beauty is so sweet and rich, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn't love it.  You take caramelized onions, which are wonderful in their own right, and add all kinds of good things like red wine and balsamic vinegars and brown sugar, to kick 'em right in the pants.  There is a depth to this marmalade that you just wouldn't believe possible coming from onions, but I would not lie to you!  And, there are so many ways to use it:  to send a panini over the top, on a white chicken pizza instead of sauce, over the top of softened cream cheese served with crackers, or spread on crostini.  I even used it atop Triscuit Cracked Pepper and Olive Oil crackers for a quick and tasty lunch today.  I am telling you, I haven't found anything that it doesn't make better.

Here's your Cast of Characters.

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
4-5 Large onions
3 Teaspoons minced garlic (I used roasted garlic)
2 Tablespoons, each, red wine vinegar, chicken broth, balsamic vinegar
1 Teaspoon salt
1/2 Teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Peel onions, cut in half, and slice thinly.

Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add brown sugar to pan; cook for 1 minute or until sugar dissolves. 

Add onion and garlic to pan.

Mix well and cover.  Cook for 30 minutes, or until onions are very tender, stirring occasionally.

Uncover and add vinegars, broth, salt and pepper to onion mixture. 

Stir, and cook on medium heat, uncovered, for 10-20 minutes, or until golden brown.  Stir frequently.

For the Spicy Garlic Aioli (ay-o-lee), there’s a certain amount of beauty in its simplicity.  There are very few ingredients, and you can completely customize it to your tastes.  If you want it to be subtle and demure, go easy on the garlic and sriracha.  Do you love garlic so much you could be a vampire hunter?  Double or triple the amount of garlic.  Let’s say that you are a pretty spicy person and want a sauce that kicks butt as much as you do.  Keep hitting it with sriracha, then.  Whatever trips your trigger, will work.  Spread it on any everyday sandwich and watch as your mouth comes alive.  Pair it with the Caramelized Onion Marmalade for the perfect combination of sweet and spicy, mouth-watering goodness!
Here's your Cast of Characters
1/2 Cup mayo
1/2 Tablespoon rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
2 Tablespoons sriracha (Thai chili paste - found in the ethnic section of your grocery store)
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1/2 Teaspoon pepper
Mix well.

Refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour, but it's better if you let it sit for a couple of hours.
I made paninis last night from the leftover pork sparerib meat.  I had some nice rolls, spread some caramelized onion marmalade on the bottom, topped with meat, a little matchstick carrots and green onions combined with aioli, mozzarella-muenster over that and the top bun spread with a little more aioli.

Unbelievable!  That's all I can say!