Old-Fashioned Cooking: Buttered Onions



In this modern-day-take-it-out-of-the-freezer-and shove-it-in-the-microwave world, we often lose sight of what real food tastes like. Not too surprising, when you look at the ingredient lists on most prepared foods. I figure if you can’t even pronounce half the ingredients, you shouldn’t rely on it as a major food source. Many so-called foods have more chemicals than food ingredients. Just think about beef stew or chili simmering slowly through the day, ready to warm the cockles of your heart – not to mention your cold hands – come dinner time. Or home-made breakfast burritos or Cornish pasties, stored in the freezer for those mornings when you can barely find the kitchen, let alone think up a menu.


In the days when people ate according to the seasons and recipes were very much of the “take a little of this and a little of that” style, meats were often from older animals, which meant they tended to be tough. Fresh chutneys, which originated in India, were combinations of fruit and spices, sometimes with a little sugar or salt, that were used as a topping to moisten the meat and add flavor. This isn’t technically a chutney, but it’s the same principle. Here’s the original 1700s recipe (sippets are toast points):

“Slice some Apples, and mince your Onions, but more Apples than Onions. Bake them with Bread, tying a Paper over the Pan: When baked butter them, adding Sugar and boiled Currants. Serve them on Sippets, and strew over them fine Sugar and Powdered Cinnamon.”

Buttered Onions (Modern Version)

3 medium Granny Smith or other baking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced

1/3 cup fresh currants or dried currants plumped with boiling water

2 medium onions, minced

2 Tbsp. butter

¼ cup sugar

1-2 tsp. cinnamon

toast points, for serving (or use as a topping for roast chicken or pork chops)

Combine the minced onions, apples, currants, sugar and cinnamon in a buttered ovenproof pan with lid. Dot the top with butter. Bake covered in a 375-400°F oven for 15–20 minutes or until tender. Serve hot with toast points.

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