Out of the Coals: Fire Roasted Onion Relish
After putting a match to the charcoal chimney, half-full and ignited via the political section, I settled into my BBQ chair for a little smoke watching. We here at the pit, we like charcoal chimneys for lighting our coals. There is something very right, and therapeutic, you might say, about crushing up a few poignantly chosen pages of the daily news , or possibly even junk mail that you so despise, and with glee in your eyes, shoving it up the bottom end of your old chimney starter. And then oh what glory it is, beneath beautiful skies and casting sunbeams, to set it cordially aflame. An act of small rebellion. Symbolic in smoke. And a giddy signal to yourself, and your neighbors too perhaps, that another outdoor cook is underway. That we are brethren of the coals, and that we are doing precisely that which is well with our souls.
I shifted my weight slightly in the chair, sipping a lovely pit beverage, as I watched the smoke curl. A pleasantry I’ve long become accustomed to in the pit. Sunbeams dappling through the Cottonwood leaves. The smell of tomato plants in the pit garden. But the tweety birds were all but missing tonight, not sure why. Perhaps there was a tweety bird festival down town or something, and they all went to that. Marching the sidewalks there for bird rights or something. I don’t know. Anyways, on my right sat two, portly, yellow onions, and one, bulbous, red, bell pepper. I had me an idea tonight. Inspired from http://foodwishes.blogspot.com/. Seems we have been reduced to hot dogs around here lately, and not that I don’t fancy a good hot dog from time to time, but it’s just that I thought I could raise the bar a little for my lowly tube steaks, with a matter of home-made onion relish. It was a plausible assumption. As usual, even if it didn’t work, it was an excuse to be outside, and more over, to play with fire. That’s all I was probably after anyway, in my heart of hearts. So grab yourself a suitable beverage then, and settle in, and let me tell you about how to make fire roasted onion relish on the grill. It’s pretty easy, really. If not dubiously fun!
The first order of business of course, is to get your coals going. A half-chimney ought to do, political section optional. Let them come to full maturity, or in other words, get good and grayed-over before you dump them in the pit. Spread them out evenly, and place your two yellow onions directly on the coals. You don’t even need the grate for this endeavor. It will seem a trifle primitive at first, watching your beloved onions morph into blackened rubble, but I guess that’s the point. After ten minutes or so, go head and flip the onions over, and lay your bell pepper on the coals too. Round about now, expect your bride to walk by and inquire what in the heck you’re doing to your vegetables. Keep your pit master cool tho, and simply motion her off with your tongs. I’m sure Picasso or Rembrandt never wanted to show their triumphs in progress either. People just won’t get it.
At any rate, keep rotating the pepper a few degrees every minute or so, until it’s blistered and black all the way around. That’s right, totally ruin the thing! And keep a watchful eye on your onions, which tarry precariously on this bed of coals here. Look at the ends of the onions, where the petals all conspire. What you want to see is little eruptions of onion juice, bubbling out and so forth. That means your onion has cooked properly deep within, and should wager of pleasing value to your culinary end game. Pluck them hence from the fiery bosom from which they lay, and unto a better destiny according to your palate. The bell pepper shouldn’t be far behind. Onions and bell peppers just go together, as you know. A binding duo to stand the test of time. Like raisins and bran. Or chocolate and peanut butter. Or concrete and rebar. Anyways.
The next step is to render these sickly looking masses into something a wee more edible. Scrape off the charred exterior. It comes off easily enough, and harvest yourself as much good portions of the distraught vegetables as you can. The onion layers directly below the outer-most charred layers you will want to keep. For it is in these layers that the premium smokey flavor we’re after subtly lurks. As with all good BBQ, take your time. Were in no hurry here. In point of fact, this relish, we found, benefits from a night’s stay in the refrigerator anyways.
Next, and with your favorite chopping knife, go henceforth and whack away on the onions and bell pepper, until you get the size and consistency you fancy in your relish. Toss it all in a bowl to mingle and commune. We tossed in some chopped Italian parsley too, for good measure. Some salt and pepper. A nice offering of olive oil. And you will also want some bit of acid mixed in here too. We used lemon juice. But you can use what ever vinegar you have on hand too. Inspiration, remember, are the keys to the culinary Ferrari.
That is it. Now just let the relish honeymoon in the fridge over night. And consume at your leisure.
Here then ends our story. Our tale in relish. And once again demonstrates that not all in this life is lost which is banished unto the fires. That good things, with a little nurturing, can and do rise from the ashes. And that when you think about it, it might actually be better that way sometimes. In a round about matter, that is. Like a diamond out of the coals. Amen.
Fire Roasted Onion Relish. Next time you’re looking to make a favorable condiment, consider this smokey-tinted onion affair, sure to bring your lowly hot dog to the next level. Quite tasty. Even to my bride, who never once claimed to be a fan of onions. Works good on salmon too, and possibly even hamburgers. You tell us!