Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Vidalia Onion and Rosemary Confiturra

This Confiturra (A confiturra is the Spanish or Portuguese word for a “preserve” or “conserve") is delicious on a steak sandwich or with any other grilled or roasted meat. It is both sweet and tangy, with a really good hint of rosemary throughout. It is the perfect accompaniment on toasted baguette pieces topped with a good cheese, or slather it on some grilled burgers or a good bratwurst.  (recipe adapted from Serious Eats)

Did you know? 

  1. The Vidalia Onion is a Georgia-grown yellow granex hybrid known for its sweet, mild flavor. Vidalias were first grown in Toombs County, Georgia.
  2. Vidalia Onions has developed an international reputation as the "world's sweetest onion." Their mild flavor is due to the unique combination of soils and climate found in the 20-county production area.
  3. Through Federal regulation, the Vidalia Onion growers developed Federal Marketing Order No. 955 in 1989 in an effort to fund research projects and to promote the consumption of Vidalia Onions.
  4. The marketing order program covers onions produced in the following counties in Southeast Georgia: Appling, Bacon, Jeff Davis, Montgomery, Tattnall, Telfair, Toombs, Treutlen, and Wheeler, as well as portions of Dodge, Jenkins, Laurens, Long, Pierce, Screven and Wayne.
  5. Approximately 225 growers cultivate Vidalia Onions on over 14,000 acres. About 125 handlers are involved in the grading, packing, and distribution of Vidalias.
  6. An average of 300 50-pound bags of Vidalias are produced per acre. Approximately 6% of the 275 growers cultivate 100acres or more; 7% produce on 50 to 100 acres; 40% on 10 to 15 acres; and 47 % on 10 or fewer acres. The majority of Vidalia Onion farms are multi-generational, family-owned-and-operated businesses.
  7. The industry's annual Vidalia Onion harvest brings some $50 million directly into Georgia's economy. The economic impact from related downstream marketing activities is estimated at $145-150 million.
  8. Vidalia Onions are sold loose by the pound, in 2-, 3- and 5-pound "pre-packs," and in 10-, 25- and 50-pound mesh bags and boxes.
  9. Generally recognized Vidalia Onion sizes are small (1 to 2 1/4 inches), medium (2 to 3 inches), and jumbo (over 3 inches).
  10. About 70% of the Vidalia crop is distributed through grocery stores as a specialty item. The remaining 30% are distributed through roadside stands and mail-order businesses.
  11. Vidalia Onions are harvested from late April through mid-June. Due to the introduction of controlled atmosphere (CA) storage, stored Vidalia Onions are available through December.
  12. In 1990, a resolution was passed by the Georgia legislature declaring the Vidalia Onion as Georgia's Official State Vegetable.

3 pounds peeled and trimmed Vidalia onions 
1/2 cup olive oil
1 ounce fresh rosemary, or about 6 long, full branches*
3 bay leaves
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cour
se-ground black pepper
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar

Cut the onions in half and slice them thinly crosswise; you should have about 10 heaping cups of onions.

Heat the oil in a heavy 5 or 6-quart stockpot with a tight-fitting lid and add the onions, turning them over repeatedly in the oil to coat them. Add the rosemary and bay leaves, burying them in the onions. Season the onions with 2 tsps of kosher salt and 1 tsp. of course-ground black pepper, and lower the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook the onions for 15 to 20 minutes, until they have softened and released their liquid, and the rosemary has wilted.

Remove the lid and add the vinegars, wine, honey, and sugar, stirring well. Maintain the heat at a steady simmer and continue to cook the onions for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, stirring the mixture often with a wooden spoon.

When the liquid has reduced by about half, pick out and remove the rosemary stems and bay leaves and continue cooking for another 15 minutes. Taste the confiturra and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.

As the liquid continues to reduce, you must be careful to keep stirring to prevent the confiturra from scorching. Continue cooking the mixture until it is soft, sticky, and moves from the bottom of the pan as you stir Be careful not to let it caramelize.

Allow the mixture to cool slightly, then spoon it carefully into sterilized jars, leaving 1/2-inch head-space. Seal the jars and process in a water bath 10 minutes, or keep the confiturra refrigerated for up to two months.

* Note: The rosemary will shed its leaves into the confiturra. If you prefer not to have the wilted leaves in your finished confiturra, tie the rosemary in cheesecloth to make a sachet.


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