Onion and Blood Orange Marmalade
Just like in the old country... this is the onion marmalade that I dreamed up for my sister Stelina, whilst visiting in Sicily this Christmas. Sure- we used oranges from my fathers garden and that made a big difference for us, but the combination of onion and orange is guaranteed to delight you wherever you are, as a complement to any savory snack like parmesan cheese or salami- whether as an appetizer or an after-meal treat.
How could I resist then, when I saw such beautiful Sicilian blood oranges on the market yesterday? Quite obviously I couldn't! So I made myself a small batch today- just a small jar full... but just enough for it to be a handy way for you to get to grips with the flavor... and next time, you can just do a little math and up the quantities!
So, this Sunday morning, for my starter-portion, I used 1 orange and 2 onions, that was my rule of thumb. Of course it all depends on the size of the orange and the size of the onions- you just want twice as much onion for it to taste right. I chopped up both the onion and the orange as finely as I could- I removed the seeds from the orange but included the peel... yes indeed- the whole orange goes in! Chop finely- but don't obsess over it- this is a marmalade, not a beauty pageant!
I also added 1 finely chopped clove of garlic, some finely chopped red chili (depends on how hot you like it- and how how the chili is), a little cinnamon, some finely chopped rosemary and thyme. And of course the other important ingredient- sugar.
So let's get started!
Heat up the sugar in a small saucepan until it melts and begins to caramelize, then add the onion and a splash of whiskey if you feel that way inclined. I did. What happens next is that the sugar immediately becomes a sticky, rock-hard brown mass and scares the bejeezus out of you. Don't panic... this is normal! Remove it from the heat and keep stirring... eventually, the sugar WILL melt again! Once this happens, add the rest of the ingredients and continue to stir.
For the first 3-4 minutes, the orange and the onion, will continue to give off their juices and the mixture will be soft and quite fluid. At this point, reduce the heat to a low simmer and continue to cook for a further 30 minutes or so, until the orange peel and the onion chunks are soft and the juices have rendered down to a thick, jammy consistency. Now is the time to taste it and see if it is sweet enough. There should be enough tanginess in the flavor from the bitter orange peel, but if it tastes simply sweet, add a little vinegar- likewise if it is too sour, add a little more sugar... it all depends on the fruits. and your own personal taste.
We both loved the result- as did the rest of the family and visitors... and I am pretty sure that you will too!
I enjoyed mine on tiny crackers I made by cutting small rounds of pizza dough with a cookie-cutter, which I then very lightly brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and sesame seeds and baked until golden brown. Along with a few slivers of Parmesan cheese or a nice ham or salami... who could ask for more? Well... actually this is so delicious that people WILL ask for more! Enjoy!