Thursday, December 13, 2007


Something I noticed the last time I visited my grandma is that instead of frying up an individual batch of onions every time she makes mjeddra, she fries onions in mass quantities, freezes them in mjeddra-sized portions, and then defrosts them in the oven while the mjeddra is cooking. I like my mjeddra onions super-crispy and I doubt they'd work frozen and defrosted, but we decided to borrow Grandma's technique for something we would love to have on hand: caramelized onions, which are a great addition when you want a rich flavor, but can take forever. So on Sunday night, we sliced up and caramelized five onions and have been chipping away at them for quick meals and snacks, which is how we came up with this cebolladilla--like a quesadilla, but with onions instead of cheese! The decadence of the onions and the smokiness of the chipotle really make this a winning appetizer or mid-evening nibble. It would also be delicious as a dip with corn chips or a spread on toast.

If you haven't caramelized five onions recently--and if anyone besides my grandma has, I'd love to hear about it--you can still make this and just caramelize the onions on the spot. But consider mass caramelization (particularly those of you with winter breaks approaching), since it will be a welcome shortcut later on.

To make (four) cebolladillas:

2 yellow onions (or about 1 cup of already-caramelized onions)
1 chipotle chile
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 teaspoon salt (more, to taste)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
8 corn tortillas
olive oil for caramelizing
canola or peanut oil for frying

First, caramelize the onions if you haven't already. To caramelize, chop the onion into rings and cook in a sauce pan over low heat with a little olive oil. Stir occasionally until they are completely wilted and have turned brown. Depending on how many onions you're using, this could take anywhere from 1/2 an hour to an hour. When we made our master batch of five onions, we had to use our largest sauce pan to contain all the chopped onions. By the time they finished caramelizing, we had about 2 1/2 cups.

Place the chipotle chile in a small bowl and pour boiling water over it. Cover with a plate and let sit for 15-20 minutes to soften.

When chile is soft and onions are caramelized, combine the pine nuts, onions, chile, cayenne and salt in a food processor. Blend until you have a paste. Taste for salt and spice (if you're like us, you'll want more cayenne!).

Spread the paste on your corn tortillas to make sandwiches. Fry each cebolladilla over medium-high heat with a small amount of canola oil, a few minutes on each side or until the bottom is golden brown. That crispy corner of onion that sneaks out around the edge of the tortilla is the best part, so skip the Lactaid for once and chow down!


eliz said...

one thing i did a couple of weeks ago was actually use my slow cooker to caramelize onions! it takes forever (of course), but i literally did not even stir them after i put them in. i melted the butter, then threw in and coated the onions, then in like 8ish hours they were caramelized and lovely. i did like 6 at once i think, because i am also big on freezing meal components.
i don't know if y'all have a slowcooker, but i am pretty in love with mine. i use it for a lot of things, despite my residual fear of everything tasting like pot roast (which did happen in my childhood, but is not a concern anymore).
happy new year! xoxoxo

I Heart Kale said...

So low-maintenance, I love it! We do have a slow cooker that we gleefully registered for and haven't used nearly enough, so we'll have to try this. Any contraption that caramelizes for me while I'm at work is a good thing, although I also have a residual childhood fear about slow cookers, namely that I'll forget to plug it in and come home to raw veggies like in that Ramona Quimby book. Thanks for the tip!