the kitchen staple you didn’t know you needed. and also pie.
This is my favorite time of year for one reason: food. And one of my favorite foods to make once Los Angeles cools down enough for me to turn on the oven is savory pie. Sounds weird; tastes amazing.
The base of said savory pie is something called onion confit, which is just a fancy way to say “stewed onions.” But oh, these are not your ordinary onions. Something magical happens when you cook them slow and low. They are not onions. They are divine foodstuff.
So let’s address this onion business first, before we get to the pie. As I’ve said before, I’m crap at following recipes. My totally-winging-it onion confit is based on the recipe from Tapas by Penelope Casas, one of the many excellent cookbooks I own but don’t use nearly often enough. If you like following actual recipes, I cannot recommend hers enough. But if you aren’t afraid to add ingredients to a pan all willy-nilly, read on, dear reader. You really can’t screw this up.
To make my lazy onion confit, you will need:
- some sweet onions (I usually use one huge or two to three small sweet onions)
- garlic (I like the frozen garlic cubes from Dorot for this recipe, but fresh is better)
- Spanish saffron
- olive oil
- white wine (I use whatever I have on hand)
- salt & pepper
- Slice the onion(s) as thin as you can and put the onion slices in a pan.
- Add one or two cubes of crushed garlic (or two cloves of fresh garlic, minced or sliced), a pinch of saffron and a glob of olive oil (I don’t measure, but you can add a tablespoon or two – enough to coat all the onions in the pan).
- Set the burner as low as you can. When the mixture in the pan starts sizzling, give it a stir and put a lid on the pan.
- Forget about it for 30 to 40 minutes or so, remove the lid and give it a stir. continue checking every five minutes or so, until you get something that looks like this:
Then add salt & pepper to taste and some wine (a couple of tablespoons, maybe?). Continue to cook, uncovered, until the wine has evaporated.
Et voilá! Sweet, soft, garlicky, boozy onions. Your whole house will smell incredible, and everyone will think you are a culinary genius.
Now what do you do with this lovely concoction? Well, you could eat it right out of the pan (guilty as charged, here). Or you could put it on pizza. Or sandwiches. Or serve it with cheese and some crusty bread (you’ll find all kinds of great stuff to do with this new culinary staple, trust). You can also add it to a savory pie, like this:
- 1 package of pre-made fresh pizza dough from Trader Joe’s
- white flour
- 1 package of sliced mushrooms from Trader Joe’s
- garlic (once again, I use the frozen cubes)
- white wine
- olive oil and/or butter, if you’re feeling it
- salt & pepper to taste
- fresh thyme
- Gruyere cheese, shredded (I use pre-shredded from [you guessed it] Trader Joe’s)
- onion confit (see recipe above)
- a rolling pin
- a pie dish
- Flour a work surface and take the pizza dough out of the package. Divide into two halves (one just slightly larger than the other) and lightly cover with flour. Let rest for 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- While the dough is resting, brown the mushrooms in a pan with garlic (to taste) & a tablespoon or so of olive oil (and/or butter). Add a splash of white wine, the leaves from a couple of sprigs of thyme, and salt & pepper to taste. Cook until wine is evaporated.
- Roll out the larger dough half until it is big enough to cover the bottom of the pie dish, plus a little to hang over the edge.
- Add filling: I dump the mushroom mixture in first, then add the onion confit on top, then add the shredded gruyere (to taste, but I usually add about one small handful). Add leaves from another sprig of fresh thyme & some salt and pepper, if desired.
- Roll out the smaller dough half until it’s big enough to cover the top of the pie. Roll the edges from the bottom crust up over the top crust, pinching the two together as you go.
- Using a sharp knife, poke a bunch of tiny holes in the top crust to prevent it from puffing up too much in the oven.
- Brush the top of the pie and edges of the crust with olive oil.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, then check. Continue checking every few minutes and take it out when the crust is golden brown (and before it burns).
- Let cool for 10-15 minutes, at least, then slice into however many pieces you want. It is delicious but RICH, so I recommend small slices.
This has become a Thanksgiving side dish tradition in my house, but you can really make it anytime. It keeps well in the fridge, so you can reheat and enjoy up to a few days later. Speaking of, guess what I’m having for lunch today?