Friday, October 7, 2011

In Praise of the Green Onion

It is hard for me to understand the horror of having onion (or garlic) breath. To swish your mouth with chemical liquids, you all know the blue stuff I am talking about, to eliminate the fact that you just have enjoyed one of the most ancient delicious vegetable known to man, is cruel taste punishment.

The onion is one of the earliest consumed bulbs by man dating back about 5000 years. The Egyptians treasured them immensely, Greek Olympian contenders and Roman doomed gladiators believed in the strengthening power of onion by rubbing their bodies with its juices.
Christopher Columbus on his 1492 expedition to the New World brought onions, not wanting to miss them away from home. However, strains of wild onions already grew throughout North America and Native American Indians ate wild onions raw or cooked, for seasoning or as a vegetable.
Here in Mexico the markets always have a large display of the green onion bundles, referred to as Mexican bulb onions (scallions in the US). In restaurants or street stalls where tacos are served, a plate of green grilled onions are served as a side with plenty of lime wedges for juice to squeeze over them. They are grilled without oil but take on an almost buttery taste. The green tops are usually used as a handle to hold on to the bulbs for munching on them, but not eaten.
As a person that hates waste, imagine my delight in finding this recipe from of our local state of Guanajuato. Indigenous and colonial food roots run deeper here than is generally known. I am out there exploring the culinary frontiers for you.
If you like authentic Mexican food, keep exploring with me.

Green Onion Soup
Sopa de rabos de cebolla
 Makes 8 servings

            6 cups                 onion greens, chopped coarsely
            ¼ stick                butter
            2 Tablespoons    vegetable oil
            6 cups                 chicken broth (or vegetable)
            1cup                    sour cream (crema)

For garnish:
            3                        white rolls (bolillos or firm white bread)
            ¼ stick               butter
            3 Tablespoons   vegetable oil

Melt the ¼ stick butter in a 4 -quart sauce pan, then add the chopped green onions and fry them until wilted. In a blender process the onions with 3 cups of the chicken (or vegetable) broth until very smooth. Press mixture through a strainer back into the saucepan and add the other 3 cups of chicken (or vegetable) broth. Bring to a boil and let simmer on a low flame for about 5 minutes. The soup can be made in advance up to this point and refrigerated. Just before serving reheat and add the cream. Do not let the soup boil after you have added the cream as it might curdle.

The Garnish:
Cut the bolillos or bread into ½ inch cubes and toast them in a large frying pan in the butter-vegetable oil mixture over medium heat, stirring often. The cubes should be crisp and golden on all sides. These can also be done in advance and kept in an airtight container until serving.
Place them in a serving bowl with a spoon and pass them with the soup.

Guia gastronómica méxico desconocido #11, comida guanajatense

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