Another Hors D’Oeuvres Idea

I came across this article about the proper way of caramelizing onion days after I made this fried polenta. I admit I didn’t do the right way, I wasn’t patient. Apparently to get a caramelized onion, it takes at least 35-40 mins. Borrowing the words of Julia Child: cook slowly until tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. Blend in the salt and sugar, raise heat to moderately high, and let the onions brown, stirring frequently until they are a dark walnut color, 25 to 30 minutes.

It means 35 mins in total, at the very least.

This article is good to read, especially since I’m making French Onion Soup next week.. it’s my turn to host the Lunch Tour Around The World, and of course, my designated theme is French. Do tell me if you have ideas on french classics that do NOT use alcohol and is halal. H thinks it’s silly to even attempt that. An avid cook, french by nationality and accountant by profession even said to me “.. sans alcool et du porc, c’est quoi ca? C’est dingue!” and one has to wonder, since the largest muslim population in Western Europe is in France, and what do they eat??

Anyway, my polenta was not very successful in terms of shape, I was running late on time. But it was awesome in terms of taste. Fresh mushrooms are God-sent. Really.

(adapted from Le Delicieux)
makes 8

2 cups vegetable stock, or 2 cups water + 1 cube vegetable bouillon
1/2 cup instant polenta
1/3 cup hard cheese: grana padano, parmesan or pecorino
1 tbsp butter
salt, optional
pinch of nutmeg 

1 small yellow onion, diced
two pinches brown sugar
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
Olive oil

1 to 1 1/2 cup sliced fresh mushroom
pinch of thyme
3 tbsp wine – I used white wine
1 large clove garlic, minced
1-2 tbsp OO

uncooked instand polenta
basil or fresh thyme, to garnish

  • Making the polenta: bring vegetable stock to a boil and slowly add the polenta. Stir until it turns thick then add the cheese, butter and nutmeg. Whisk well. Taste and add salt if necessary.
  • Pour into a baking tray or plastic box. Give the box a shake to make sure they have equal heights all over.
  • Set aside and let it set for at least 30 mins. I didn’t and hence the shapeless polenta.
  • Making the onions: over low-medium heat, heat up the oil and sauté the onion until turns translucent (about 10 mins). Sprinkle with the brown sugar and vinegar then cook further more till the onions caramelized, stirring frequently. The process may take up to 45 mins, but if you’re impatient, taste and take off the heat whenever you’re happy.
  • Making the mushroom: Heat up the oil and sautee the mushroom till they turn soft. Add in the garlic, thyme, wine and give it a good stir. Let it cook until the wine evaporated. Taste and add salt if needed.
  • Frying the polenta: once the polenta has set, cut in squares or rectangles, dust in uncooked polenta grain and pan fry them till brown on each side. Drain on paper towel
  • To plate: lay the fried polenta, put 1/2 tsp caramel onions and piled with lots of mushroom. Garnish with basil or fresh thyme

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