You could say it all started last winter when, in preparation for being cooped up for days, I decided to make a meatloaf recipe that called for soffritto. I learned what it was and how to make it for this meatloaf – two parts red onion, one part carrot, one part celery, diced and caramelized in olive oil to a kind of oblivion. I achieved this in a cast iron skillet kept over low heat for around an hour. It smelled wonderful.
This winter, I made the meatloaf again and a little extra soffritto to have around the apartment. And I learned that it’s not all that different from mirepoix, the ingredients of which can be had prepared from Trader Joe’s, so I’ve started to make soffritto-style mirepoix a regular ingredient in my rotation. And having read a bit about Maillard reactions in McGee’s On Food and Cooking, I realized that onions responded to this method with a brilliant and deep caramelization.
So now then. Because there’s just soffrito-style mirepoix laying about, I’ve added it to my sandwiches, which in combination with mayonnaise has to be among the best condiments I’ve accidentally created*. The oil in the mirepoix drains into the mayonnaise, thinning it to the consistency of a dip, but then recombines with the vegetables to form a kind of indescribably aromatic paste – I imagine different proportions and varieties of mayonnaise would be suitable for different applications.
But this is all lead in for the revelation I had last weekend at Shing’s house on Monday:
Caramelized-onion bacon jam.
Cut up a few slices of bacon, pan fry them to a satisfactory crispness (but not too much). Remove the bacon, leave the fat. Put a finely diced onion in the pan. Flatten it out a bit, add oil if there isn’t enough bacon grease to cover the surface of the pan. Cook on low heat for an hour or so, until the onions are sweet and bronzed. Mix the cooked bacon and onions.
*I also accidentally combined sriracha ketchup and have since deployed it as a regular fried chicken topping.