Transform Pearl Bows Into Sharp Charred Balls

As you may or may not know, Portland, Oregon, the city I live in, is currently in serious condition. I’m not going to list all our ailments here, but right now the most pressing problem is air, which is bad. I tried to stay in my apartment to avoid this, which means that I couldn’t go to the grocery store that often. (I wasn’t going that hard anymore due to the pandemic, which is still real!)

It sucks, but there is one small bright spot in the fact that I was forced to raid my pantry and freezer in search of forgotten foods. It’s like Chopped But Dystopian! The most exciting finds were Anson Mills’ pork chop and sack of cereal, but the sleeping bag was an unfinished sack of pearl onions that I used out of desperation (and boredom).

This is stupid, I muttered to myself, inserting some oiled and salted, still frozen onions between the waffle iron plates. “What’s the point in that?”

The point, at least for the waffle, is to turn the slippery, cold little onion balls into charred sweet balls. The onions in the waffles were somewhere between burnt and caramelized, with soft, elastic centers, and they were delicious. Plus, they cook very quickly, which is what I always look for in a cooking method. (This does create a mess, though, but we have strategies for how to deal with it .)

I let them cool off a bit before adding the quinoa collection you see above, and they brought both style and zest to the dish. I think they make the perfect filling for veggie tacos or underwater sandwiches, but don’t get too creative – they are great as a simple side for fried chicken and fried in a pot.

Frozen pearl onions require a little preparation: rinse them under cold water to remove frost (and soften slightly), then let dry for a few minutes on paper towels. Drizzle with enough oil to coat it (I used grape seed oil because of its high smoke point), then salt and waffle liberally over medium to high heat until golden and brown in places. Depending on how much your onion is defrosted and how much you stew at a time, this can happen within a minute, so check often. Let cool if you plan to serve in a salad, or enjoy the stew or grilled meat right away.

Updated 09/15/2020 3:20 PM EST: Updated to include cooking times.

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