Last night was the final night of my Week Of Trying, which meant it was time for a new recipe for a pasta dish (since Saturdays are our traditional wine-and-pasta-and-hockey nights). I decided to go to the always-reliable Marcella Hazan for something exciting and unlike what we normally eat on Saturdays, and The Essentials of Italian Cooking didn’t let me down. It was with great eagerness that I opted for her “Smothered Onion Sauce”, which is basically just a whole bunch of caramelized onions tossed with spaghetti noodles.
In order to get this started, I needed six cups of thinly-sliced onions. I am not a good onion-chopper, and after getting advice from Katebits that goggles really do work to solve the crying-while-cutting-onions problem, I decided it wouldn’t be stupid to ask for Baker’s Catalog’s onion goggles this past Christmas. Pookie and Boomer came through for me, and let me tell you, these things are a miracle. Armed with my goggles and a glass of wine, I was confident in my ability to chop as many onions as Marcella could throw my way.
I know. You’re wondering how I make cooking so sexy. What can I say? I was born with it.
My grocery store was stupid this week, and they only had wee little onions the size of golf balls (and yes, there’s an insult about the relative masculinity of my grocery store in there). So in a perfect world, I’d only need to slice up, like, four onions. Instead, I had this:
My goggles are a beast. I got through the pile like a breeze, and before they even knew what hit them, they were sliced up and ready to be caramelized.
The recipe said to put the onions and a sprinkling of kosher salt in a pan with two tablespoons of butter and two tablespoons of olive oil, and let them cook, covered, over low heat for about an hour, until they’re soft. Then take the lid off, turn the heat up to medium and cook them for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they’re all golden brown and all the liquid the onions have given off has evaporated. Done and done.
Then you stir in 1/2 cup of dry white wine and cook, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid “bubbles away” (I love Marcella Hazan’s way of writing recipes). Season liberally to taste with fresh ground black pepper and salt (I used sea salt), then stir in two tablespoons of fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley and toss with pasta. She recommends spaghetti, and I went with linguini fini. Once everything is incorporated, top the whole kit and caboodle with a nice grating of fresh Parmesan (about 1/3 cup, per the recipe).
This pasta is so delicious. Caramelized onions are basically nature’s candy, and their sweetness here, balanced with the salting and Parmesan cheese, was just perfect. The sauce ended up very smooth, and had enough syrupy liquid to it that it coated the noodles deliciously. Basically, I had a love affair with this dinner. And I think it reciprocated.