I'm taking a little break from stressing out about my future to bring you a new series, Ph.Dishes (yes, I really am that clever), in which I share with you something awesome that I just cooked, suitable for the scientist's wallet. Tonight I made French Onion Soup, something that literally everyone in the world likes.
To make this dish, which incorporates all four food groups, you will need the following:
at least 2 large Vidallia (or sweet) onions (one per person is a good estimate)
dry white wine (whatever crap someone brought to your last party is best)
beef stock (which you can make from scratch for basically no money)
shredded gruyere, or fontina, or both (kinds of cheese)
1. Cut the onions in half, and then slice them to ~1/4 inch. Save the outer peelings in a freezer bag for future chicken or beef stock, an excellent trick I learned from my good friend LM. Toss the onions in a large stock pot or dutch oven with as much butter as you are comfortable with, but at least 3 tablespoons if you're really serious about this.
2. Cook the shit out of the onions on med-low heat, adding a hearty dash of kosher salt and a little white pepper and stirring only occasionally, maybe once every 5-10 min. This is going to take at least half an hour and most likely around 45 minutes or an hour if you want them really super caramelized, so it's a good idea to make yourself a cocktail while you wait.
3. When you can't stand it anymore and have absolutely got to move on with your life, pour some white wine into the pot, enough to cover the onions. Turn the heat up and de-glaze the pan, stirring until the wine reduces and thickens, around 5 minutes.
4. Add the beef stock, enough so that you are pleased with the broth-to-onions ratio, plus a little extra to account for evaporation. Bring to a boil and turn down the heat, simmering for 15 min. Set your oven to broil, and move a rack to the top shelf. You may want to make yourself a salad here, so that you'll have some actual vegetables with your dinner, not just some butter-soaked onions that have had every last trace of nutrients beaten out of them.
5. Slice your baguette ~3/4 in, but it's not like you need to break out a ruler or anything. Also, it's totally OK if the baguette is a little stale--it's just going to soak up all that oniony goodness! Place 2 or more ceramic bowls on a cookie sheet and pour the soup in each one, stopping when the distance between the soup surface and top edge of the bowl equals the thickness of your baguette slices. Lay however many baguette slices are required to cover the soup on top, and then, with a heavy hand, cover everything with cheese.
6. Slide the whole sheet into the oven, and broil until the cheese is browned and bubbly. Don't burn yourself on the rack; I did this, and I can tell you first hand--that shit is HOTTT!!!
7. When the cheese is satisfactorily amazing-looking (trust me, you will just know), remove the cookie sheet and let the soups cool at least 15 min. You HAVE to do this, or you will have no taste buds left at all, I swear. Eat your salad; it will distract you.
8. Have 15 minutes gone by? Did you eat all your vegetables? You're sure? OK, dig in. Bon Appetit!
The Plight of the Post-Doc