Smoked Pickled Onions
I’ve been meaning to try pickling some onions at Christmas for a few years now, but kept forgetting to do it early enough. Last year, I apparently decided to send future me a present in the form of a reminder to get my act together. This happened to pop up in October around the same time as I was experimenting with my cold-smoker, and so the idea for Smoked Pickled Onions was born.
I combined a couple of recipes to get a consensus over pickling method, as I wanted something straightforward and traditional - the twist to this is the smoking of the onions, rather than any pickling cleverness.
- 1kg small onions
- 1l White wine vinegar
- 400g sugar
- Sea salt (flakes, preferably)
- any combination of mixed peppercorns, cloves, chili flakes, star anise or mustard seeds
- a red chili
- A cold-smoke generator
- Oak dust
- cardboard box, barbecue with lid, or other chamber for smoking
- pickle jars
Remove the loose, dry skin from around the onions. Place in a bowl or large pan and cover with boiling water. Once the water is cooled, peel the onions under the water. Cover the peeled onions in salt flakes, wrap in a tea towel, and leave overnight.
The next day, rinse the salt from the onions and dry them thoroughly on kitchen paper. Arrange on a wire rack in your preferred smoking chamber and cold-smoke for 4-6 hours.
While the onions smoke, sterilise your jars by boiling them in a large pan and drying them in a low oven. Let them cool.
Shortly before the onions are done, dissolve the sugar in the vinegar over a low heat, and add your peppercorns and whatnot. Pack the smoked onions nice and tight into the jars along with a red chili pepper (sliced lengthways) and pour over the warm vinegar.
Store the jars in a dark, cool place for eight weeks or so. (This batch I just did was down for nine weeks and the onions retained a good crunch).