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Caramelized Onion Crackers

January 10, 2011
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Caramelized Onion Crackers

During the days leading up to the New Year, I spent hours thinking about just the right post to kick off 2011. I had plenty of time to mull it over, especially during my record-breaking 12-hour voyage from Boston to New York after Christmas (thanks, blizzard), but in the flurry of house guests we’ve had lately, plus a bout with some nasty flu-ish symptoms, I’ve totally fallen off the wagon. And aside from some sort of uber-festive recipe, or a ‘resolution-friendly’ salad, my efforts to find a distinctively New Years-y topic haven’t turned up a whole lot. But now, it being January 10th, I think it’s time to keep trucking, ‘right post’ or not.

If the mention of crackers doesn’t quite get you going, I can understand. These crisp snacks are widely regarded as the second class members of the cheese plate, or worse, a critical part of the sick-day saltine/ginger ale diet. Crackers are usually just a vehicle for something more delicious-‐a critical means of transferring that hot spinach and artichoke dip, baked brie en croute, etc. from the plate into your mouth. But what if they could be something more?

So one rainy Sunday, likely in a moment of supreme homework/laundry procrastination, I decided to take on this very question. As so many of my kitchen adventures begin, I cracked open my copy of How to Cook Everything in search of a trusty, simple recipe. Flying right in the face of the typical supermarket boxed versions, containing a host of bizarre ingredients (who doesn’t love malt syrup, invert sugar and monoglycerides with their wedge of camembert?) Mark Bittman’s version called for only four: butter, salt, flour and water.

With the addition of some cracked pepper and course sea salt sprinkled on the unbaked dough, the first round was on the right track. And although a perfectly good cracker, I wanted something more unique-‐a bigger payoff after enlisting the food processor, rolling pin, 400 degree oven, and covering the kitchen with a thin dusting of flour. So, after several batches (over several weekends) and the better part of a bag of flour, I reached The Cracker-‐the liquid in the original recipe had been replaced completely with the moisture of a large onion, cooked with the butter and salt until deeply caramelized.

Yes, these crackers are bit of work. The onions require some TLC, and a bit of vigilance is necessary on the baking end. But the end result is darn tasty, and for the DIY-inclined, make a great homemade gift.

Crackers galore!

Caramelized Onion Crackers
Adapted from Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything”

2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 very large onion, finely diced (about 3/4-1 lb. whole, or enough to yield about 3/4 to 1 cup caramelized onions)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup all purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
a few drops of water if neccessary
a few tsps. olive oil for drizzling
coarsely ground black pepper
sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Warm a large skillet (cast iron works well) over medium high heat. Melt the butter, add the chopped onions and salt. Stir to coat and cook for a few minutes on medium-high heat, stirring frequently much of the excess liquid evaporates. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook the onions until they are very tender and deeply caramelized. This is a labor of love: in order NOT to burn the onions, caramelizing might take as long as 1/2 hour over low heat, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, pour the flour into a food processor and hold. Lightly dust a sizable work surface with flour, as well as a large sheet pan. Find yourself a rolling pin.

When the onions are done, add them to the food processor with the flour and process until the mixture comes together in a large ball that clears the sides of the bowl. This may take a minute or two of processing, plus a few pauses to adjust the contents of the bowl. If your dough doesn’t come together, you may need to add a few drops of water (this will happen if your onion is a bit on the small side and there isn’t enough moisture present), but do so slowly and very little at a time. If the dough becomes too loose, add a bit of flour.

Dough Ball

When your dough is workable [see dough ball above], remove to your floured work surface and roll as evenly as possible until you have a sheet that is about 1/16″ thick. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper and cut into desired shapes. Place crackers on prepared sheet pan and bake in preheated oven. Although I hesitate to give a pre-determined bake time–you’ll have to watch carefully because the thickness of each cracker, heat of your oven, etc. can cause fairly significant variation–the whole baking process should take about 7-12 minutes, but I’d take a peek after 5. If need be, remove any crackers that are browning more quickly than others.

When golden brown, remove crackers from the oven (they will still be a bit pliable) and allow them to cool on the baking sheet completely. When cool and hardened, store in an airtight container or storage bag.

Crackers with Brie

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Pete permalink
    January 12, 2011 7:27 pm

    These are delicious. Simple but flavorful enough to stand on their own two feet. Highly recommended. Just make sure you heed the advice to keep onions on a low heat. I got impatient and almost burned ’em.

  2. Sally permalink
    September 4, 2011 8:23 pm

    Wow, these look so good! I have to test them out.

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