I watch a lot of Chopped, on the Food Network. It’s a fun show and I find its inspiring, because it really shows how much can be accomplished in a short amount of time. One technique I’ve seen them use over and over on the show is a ‘quick pickle’. If they can do it in under 30 minutes, it must not be *that* hard. I’ve never pickled anything before, but I’ve always meant to try it, and last week I found just the reason to do it.
I love hamburgers. I seasoned this one with a spicy, chipotle kind of flair. And I wanted something special to put on it… have you ever had a restaurant burger with awesome pickled onions? They are my favorite! For the longest time, I didn’t know that they were pickled, I just knew they were tasty 🙂 And then recently, I had a conversation with a chef at a restaurant down my street, who has awesome pickled onion on their house burger.
I’ll put a disclaimer on this – like most things in life, food isn’t black and white. There are grey areas. Technically, red wine vinegar is not paleo, just like butter isn’t, just like cheese isn’t. But I eat cheese and butter, sometimes. I’m choosy about it – I only buy grassfed butter and I only put a tablespoon or two in certain recipes. That isn’t the end of the world – just like putting a slice of cheese on this burger would not be the end of the world. That’s different than buying an 8oz package of cheese slices and eating all of them in one sitting. You have to weigh your choices and be smart. For me, there are certain foods that are really tempting for me. I avoid these like the plague, because I know if I eat them, I will not be able to stop at just one. Then there are other things, that are not paleo, but I let myself have them occasionally, because they are not a ‘problem’ for me. I don’t really schedule these ‘cheats’. Sometimes I go a long time without any cheating. I figure, if I’m on a roll and feeling good why ‘force’ myself to cheat, just because it’s a certain day? But life is spontaneous and unpredictable and situations come up, so I try to be open to that.
For me, cheating works best not when I cheat for an entire meal but maybe one component of my meal is a ‘cheat.’ Like adding cheese to an all paleo chili. Or a little butter to cauliflower to give it a ‘mashed potato’ taste. Or like this past Saturday, a good friend of mine got married. I skipped the potatoes and the pasta and the dinner rolls on the buffet; and went with chicken, veggies and greens instead. But I had one of her cupcakes for dessert, because it happened to be a flavor combination I really enjoy. I’ve been to other weddings this year where I’ve skipped the cake entirely, because I didn’t find the flavors particularly tempting. I just ask myself, does this really sound appealing? Really? Or do I just want this because it’s there? In which case, I tell myself to get over it.
So red wine vinegar. Let’s just say, I could do A LOT worse in terms of cheating. And normally, if I use olive oil, I don’t heat it. But I made an exception for this, because most of the liquid is discarded. It’s a really easy technique, and it elevates the flavor of the whole burger. Where as raw red onions can kinda ‘bite’ you with their over powering flavor, these onions are sweet and sour with no bite. My plan is to pickle daikon next – I’ll let you know how that one goes 🙂
Pickled Red Onions
1 red onion, sliced into rings
(be sure your rings are the same width, so they will process evenly)
2 parts red wine vinegar to 1 part olive oil
(for one onion I used 1 cup red wine vinegar and 1/2 cup olive oil – you will need enough liquid to cover the onions entirely)
1 tsp Pickling Spice
(I used a pre-mix I found in the grocery store)
Separate your rings of onions and place in a large bowl or glass tupperware. Combine the vinegar, oil and spice in a pan. Heat on the stove top to a boil. Carefully pour the hot liquid over the onions. Let stand. When container can be safely handled, cover with lid or plastic wrap and place in refrigerator. For best results, make the night before, they get better the longer they sit!