I have one rule when it comes to using onions in a recipe. ANY recipe. Caramelize them first. Making salad? Add caramelized onions to the dressing. Making chili or pasta sauce? Caramelized onions always add a roasted, sweet depth to it.
A few weeks ago, I was developing a drink recipe for a competition and I had to back out at the last minute (part illness at home, part I’m an anxious freak sometimes, part “What the hell am I doing fighting with food/drink??? Food is to be shared not fought over!!!”)….Anyways, I prepared a lot of Fennel and Ginger Syrup. Besides drinking it as a part of my Roasted Barley Fennel Ginger Latte I decided to make a BBQ sauce. And in any BBQ sauce, onions are involved, so lets make that BBQ sauce a little roasty, toasty and sweet with deeper flavours of caramelized onions, a couple of flavourful syrups and time to fuse the flavours together.
Roasty Toasty Sweet BBQ Sauce
1 tsp oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup Fennel Syrup
1/4 cup Ginger Syrup
1/4 cup vinegar (pickling vinegar for a sharper taste or rice vinegar or a milder taste)
1 tsp salt
In a medium pot over medium high heat, add the oil, onions and 1/2 tsp salt. Stir to soften for about 5-7 minutes. gradually reduce the heat, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan until the onions brown gradually. Adding a few tablespoons of water periodically throughout the process helps the gradual caramelizing without scorching the onions or the pot itself. It should take about 20-25 minutes total.
Add the tomato paste and stir over medium heat to toast the tomato paste. Taking the time to toast the tomato paste before adding a liquid component adds another depth of flavour. It’s the equivalent of caramelizing an onion, but with tomato paste. It’s worth the extra 7-10 minutes.
Add the Fennel and Ginger Syrups, vinegar and salt. Bring to a simmer, partially cover with a lid and simmer, with occasional stirring for 20 minutes, or until thickened to desired consistency.
I used this as a brushing sauce while making a BBQ Chicken Cheeseburger. Simply brush the cooled, finished sauce on prepared chicken burgers, grill, brushing both sides as it cooks and melt cheese to finish.
It’s also a great BBQ sauce for grilled fish or cubed pork skewers. Makes about 1-1/2 cups/375 mL of sauce. Don’t worry it goes quickly enough that you don’t have to worry about spoilage 😉