Anyone ever wonder what redneck French onion soup would be like. You know - start with French onion soup and remove anything that is French? No? Well neither have I actually.
But I was looking for something to cook with beer to enter this contest and this sounded like it might work - so I gave it a shot...
Many apologies to Alton Brown in advance. I borrowed very heavily from a Good Eats episode.
Step 1: The Ingredients
The goal was to remove everything from Alton's recipe that sounded French - the preferred substitution would be something southern, and if not southern at least American. here is what I came up with.
3 lbs sweet onions. I used vidalia onions they are from Georgia, definitely not French.
3 Tbs butter. From Kroger - again, not French
1 tsp salt. I used kosher salt - pretty sure it isn't French
16 ounces beer. I used a homebrew stout because that's what I had available. Since I brewed it myself it is safe to say this is not French
10 ounces chicken broth. My wife had some stock leftover from something. She isn't French, neither was the chicken so this seems safe.
10 ounces apple cider. Made sure it wasn't imported so it can't be French.
parsley packet. Bouquet garni sounded way too French. I just picked some parsley from my garden.
Bread - I used Chicago Italian bread. Nothing French about it.
A splash of Apple pie moonshine - Cognac sounded French. That and I don't have any cognac
Cheese - I used Monterey jack. Wasn't going to use anything like Gruyere because I have no idea if it is French or not - just not going to take that chance.
Parmesian cheese - Ours came from either Italy or Wisconsin, neither of which are in France.
Step 2: Prepare the Onions
Probably the most labor intense step. I followed Alton's instructions to halve the onions, then slice them into half moon shapes. The last picture shows what 3 pounds of onions looks like when cut into a bunch of half moons.
Step 3: Cooking the Onions
Now comes the easy part...
Heat an electric skillet to 275. Some recipes call for 250, some for 300. I split the difference.
Melt 3 Tbsp butter
layer onions and salt - it is easy to overdo the salt, I ended up using too much
I covered and let cook for 30 minutes or so. After 30 minutes they had reduced enough that they could be stirred.
I let the onions cook uncovered for another 30 minutes - stirring a couple times. (note.... At the end these little devils are delicious. Had difficulties keeping the family from continuously taste testing them)
When they had carmelized to a medium brown I added the liquids. Cranked the heat up to 325 until the liquid started to boil.
Reduced the heat to a simmer and left uncovered for 15 minutes to reduce the volume.
Added the herb bundle and let simmer 5 minutes more.
Remove the herbs and turn off the heat.....
On to the assembly.
Step 4: Prep the Bread
I used a Chicago style Italian bread. I have no idea what is special about Chicago style Italian bread, but it looked like it would be a sturdy white bread that would yield slices large enough for my bowls.
I cut the bread lengthwise into slices just under 1/2 inch.
Use the bowl to punch out a chunk of bread the right size.
Once you have the bread the right size I toasted them under the broiler for 30 seconds or so.
Step 5: Final Assembly
Fill your bowls with the reduced soup mixture - leave enough room on top for the bread and cheese.
Add a piece of bread to each bowl - toasted side down.
Grate Parmesian onto bread.
Add Monterey jack to top.
Pop into oven under the broiler for a couple minutes - until the cheese melts.
Remove from oven - let cool for a couple minutes
Serve as soon as it is cool enough to eat.I
Final results.... Mixed.
I'm not a big fan of onion soup. In my opinion it is too salty - and my interpretation was definitely heavy on salt. My son said he could taste the moonshine and didn't care for it. I think it may have been the cider he was tasting. It was the first time he has had onion soup.
My wife - who likes onion soup liked it. Thought it was as good as she normally gets in a restaurant.
Will I make it again... Probably, but will wait for winter, and definitely cut down on the salt, or at least measure the salt. It is more likely that I will have beer available in the house than wine, so I will likely use beer in the future.