Onion Confit with Fig and Port


The busiest pickling and jam-making months are behind. However, I keep on making Apple and Pear Sauces, preserving exotic fruits (Mango Chutney or Hot Mango Sauce) and I have just started to prepare this year’s batches of onion confit. If you have ever been to a French deli, you have probably seen expensive small jars of “confit d’oignon”, seasoned with different alcohols and/or dried fruit. Confit is a long simmered, slightly sweet onion jam. It is typically served warm with foie gras (fat duck’s liver), but it is also excellent with black pudding, grilled or roast pork, chicken and duck. It works perfectly well also as a tart filling or even as a simple toast spread.

Since I have always found onion confit prices excessive and totally unfounded (onion being one of the cheapest and easiest stored basic European vegetable), I decided to experiment on my own. I quickly realised how cheap and easy the whole process was, even though it required several hours of long simmering. The fig and port version is by far my favourite, but even when both are skipped, the confit is excellent. I think a jar of confit is a very good idea for a home-made, edible Christmas present and an original alternative to flowers or chocolates when one is invited to someone’s house.

Onion confit can be made with any onion variety. I usually go for the cheapest ones, since they “melt” a lot during the long simmering process.

TIP: Onion confit can be either processed and preserved in the pantry or stored in the fridge for one or two weeks. If you don not intend to process it, reduce the vinegar and sugar amounts. Here they act as preserving agents, but if the jam is eaten quickly, their addition is merely a question of taste balance.

Preparation: 3-5 hours (it can be made in two days)

Ingredients (yield depends much on the onions and preferred consistency, but don’t count on more than 2x 150 ml jars):

1 kg onions, peeled and sliced

4 dried figs

50g brown cane sugar

1 tablespoon salt

soy sauce (to taste) or more salt

100 ml ruby port wine

100 ml white wine vinegar 4,5%

2 tablespoons good quality oil

(ground pepper)

Heat the oil in a pan, add the onions and let them soften a bit on a very low heat (you can put the lid on the pan, but remember to stir very often).

After about 10 minutes add the soy sauce, the sugar, finely chopped figs and the vinegar.

Let the whole mixture simmer on a very low heat for about an hour, frequently stirring.

Add the port wine.

Cover the onions with a lid, let them simmer for at least 2 more hours, stirring.

Adjust the taste, adding more vinegar or salt or sugar and let the confit simmer uncovered until the liquids evaporate and it takes a consistency of a jam.

/At this point you can (after the confit has cooled down) keep it in the fridge for a couple of weeks, or process it in the jars, as described below, and store it in your pantry for about a year/

Pour the confit, still hot, into sterilised jars. Cover with lids. Leave the jars to cool.

Place the cool jars into a big pan, bottom lined with an old kitchen towel folded in two (this will prevent the jars from breaking), cover up with hot – but not boiling- water to the level just below the lid. Bring to boil and keep on a very low heat, in simmering water, for around 20 minutes.
Stick on self-adhesive labels, write the name of the confit and don’t forget to mark the date.

NOTE: For the readers who live in the USA, this is not a USDA tested recipe and therefore not recommended for canning by their standards.