Rarely have I been so disapppointed in a recipe from Dorie's Around My French Table, but most of all disappointed in myself.
I love French Onion Soup. I order it often in restaurants. I was so excited this recipe had been chosen. I was so excited to make it. I read the recipe ahead of time- slowly cooking the onions for "an hour or more" was described. I was up for it.
I think I started cutting up my 4 pounds of onions around 3 pm. Okay, so that took a bit longer than expected. I followed Dorie's cutting instructions and thought I was moving along pretty nicely. (I had visions of Meryl Streep playing Julia in the movie, vigorously practicing the slicing and dicing to compete with her male classmates. Ha!) Moving right along. Found the Comte cheese at... Costco!
I melted the butter in olive oil in a large pot, added the onions, garlic, salt and pepper. Stirred them all together with the recommended wooden spoon. Simple and straightforward enough. And here's where it started to fall apart. What, you say. She barely got started! Well, yup. A SUPER simple recipe... NO fancy ingredients or tricky, fancy, Frenchy techniques... what could go wrong?
I'll tell you exactly what went wrong. At the point where Dorie instructs us to stir everything in the pot with a wooden spoon, she then instructs us to turn the heat down to it lowest setting.
(Looking back on it, hours later, and I do mean HOURS, that's where the soup came to a screeching halt and never did recover.)
I'm so obedient. I am so disciplined in following directions. I did what she said to do and turned my burner down to it's lowest setting. Having just stirred the pot, I went off to play with my sewing for about 15 minutes. Came back to stir (directions said, "frequently"). Hmmm. Not much happening but Dorie says it's a slow process. It's now about 4:00. No problem, we should be eating soup by 6 or 6:30, if I take the hour "plus", and the 30 minutes you cook after adding the chicken broth.
Apparently I was so discouraged I didn't take any photos...
More sewing and stirring. Gee, 5 pm and my pot of onions is barely wilted. Perhaps I'll bump the heat up just a bit. 6 pm, hearing a faint sizzle under my onions, NO hint of any color, let alone carmelizing. Hmmm. Perhaps my stove is defective. Change burners. I certainly don't want the dreaded burned taste Dorie describes as one might be tempted to "rush" the process. Really? Rushing might burn something? Well what the heck. Am I then headed toward what Dorie describes as "...don't get the onions really brown, your soup will be pale in both taste and looks". She forgot to add- JINX!
By SEVEN O'CLOCK PEE EMM I am staring at a pot of very blonde, limp onions. Carmelized? Nowhere near. We are starving. I press on. It's a work night! We retire early! So... if it weren't looking like a failure now I clinched the deal by adding the rest of the ingredients and serving a very pale, very sad bowl of soup that would never have made it out of any professional kitchen in the world. (I can hear Gordon Ramsay now. "What an effing idiot!!")
So I can clearly see now that, of course, Dorie likely cooks on a gas range with a zillion BTU's, and my pathetic electric cannot cook diddly on the lowest settings. How dense was I to stick so tightly to instructions I should have realized were not meant for my all-electric, "modern" cooktop! Even when I saw NO progress? Duh!
|Well, the top was good. You can see the very pale nature of what lies below around the edge of the bowl. Ugh.|
Check out what the more successful Doristas accomplished at: