Onions have a bad rep, am I right? Yes they sting your eyes (unless you’re cunning like me and wear contacts), they’re quite…um…fragrant, and they can overpower most other ingredients. However, they’re sweet, give the right amount of tang to a dish, and have so many different qualities based on how long they’re cooked and the way in which they are prepared. They are a versatile root, complete with different varieties: green, sweet, yellow, spanish, others. Some people put salt on a culinary pedestal–and with good reason–for its ability to wake up the palate, and add that special extra “something” to take a dish from good to punch-yourself-in-the-face-great. I feel the same way about onions. The addition of thinly sliced raw onions to a sandwich adds a new complexity of flavors. Slow cooked or caramelized onions with any meat brings out a sweet and sultry duet of flavors. Oddly enough, I’m not a huge fan of fried onion rings. I mean, I’ll eat them of course, but they’re not my favorite.
Why all the talk of onions? Well they’re the highlight in today’s dish: Soubise. Soubise is a French casserole-like dish where the juice from cooked onions becomes the liquid to cook the rice. Did your head just explode? Explode with thoughts of being knee-deep in flavor country? Because mine did.
I’ve actually made this dish before, with the help of Stephanie Izzard’s Girl In The Kitchen. I found a similar recipe (read: it explains the dish, but is not the same) here, if you want to create your own. I have to stress again, buy this cookbook. If you make one dish out of it, you’ve already gotten your money’s worth.
Now there is a very simple method to this dish: cut onions, cut tomatoes, par-boil rice, strain rice, add all to dutch oven or lidded pot, add some butter/salt/pepper, bake, stir every so often, enjoy the hell out of.
Now Stephanie Izzard’s version utilizes tomatoes in the cooking process which gives it the perfect amount of acidity. I love tomatoes about as much as I love onions (I won’t go into a whole big tangent about it though, you’re welcome), so for these two flavors to marry in slow cooking is just…the tops.
But I wanted more in my meal. What to do. Poach an egg and serve it on top of garlic-sauteed spinach you say? I accept your ridiculous challenge.
It’s almost comical how much spinach cooks down. John picked up one of those big square plastic containers full of spinach, and the entire thing cooked down to about…maybe 3/4 Cup worth of mass. But hey, that’s a stacked 3/4 Cup full of iron.
It’s topped with Cashews, did I mention that? Because that extra little crunch is just the tops (I haven’t used that term in a while, hence the using it twice in this post). My only complaint: there were no leftovers. I may double the recipe next time…but probably not since my dutch oven isn’t big enough (will “Dutch Oven” ever not be funny?)