Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Thanksgiving Sandwich, with Caramelized Onions

I have many reasons to be grateful this year. Friendships come and go; some fade over time, some bud and grow unexpectedly, and some are made to last. I was invited to two hearty thanksgiving dinners this year, one on a dear colleague's handsome terrace near downtown Hong Kong, another on Thanksgiving Day in suburban Piedmont, California, at the charming family home of a dear friend whom I have known since college. 

Thanksgiving this year is particularly memorable, not only because I have finally had my first official turkey dinner, but also because of the friendships that it strengthens and creates, the love that goes into preparing this age-old tradition, and the warmth that travels around the table. Need I mention the food - the turkey, the scrumptious sides, the stuffing, the homemade cranberry sauce, the pies (my college friend Kelley prepared not one, but five pies - namely pecan, pumpkin, and apple pie - It was like a salacious fantasy come true). Having the chance to work alongside Kelley's mother - a remarkably loving, gentle, and soft-spoken woman - made the night all the more special.

Kelley and her mother, Miye, made sure no one walked out hungry
Of course, neither nights did I leave hungry nor empty-handed. Both my colleague Ava and Kelley's mother spoiled their guests with an inexhaustible array of food and leftovers. I greedily lugged home turkey, stuffing and all the works, which I happily devoured over the course of several days. For variety's sake, I changed up the presentation a bit, and one obvious way to go is the almighty Thanksgiving sandwich. 

To up the ante, I topped the fixings with caramelized onions - the tender, candy-sweet-and-savory topping that complements beautifully the savoriness of turkey stuffing and plays off the tart sweetness of cranberry sauce. An already luscious sandwich just sky-rocketed to the next level.

To prepare...
Several slices of hearty farmer's bread, grilled or toasted
Turkey meat
Salad greens
Cranberry sauce
Caramelized onions

For the caramelized onions...
2 onions (yellow, brown, or red), sliced
1 tablespoon butter, extra-virgin olive oil, or a mix
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Brown sugar (optional)

Pile on the icing on the cake!
1. Heat olive oil and butter in a wide, thick-bottomed pan on medium high heat. Add onions to pan and cook very slowly on medium low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent onions from sticking and burning. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan as the caramelization proceeds.

2. When onions are softened and tinged golden, add sugar and cook a further 10 minutes. If necessary, add a little water to prevent onions from drying out or sticking. When onions have reached a desired shade of brown, deglaze pan with balsamic vinegar and salt onions to taste.

3. Stack your sandwich and top with cranberry sauce and loads of caramelized onions. Enjoy the taste of Thanksgiving!

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