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Charleton House Crocked Onions

From Charleton House, a country house hotel in Somerset, England, comes this piquant accompaniment to robust cheddar cheeses with good age and big flavors. We like it, too, with honey-glazed ham, in Christmas turkey sandwiches, or tossed with grilled red peppers. Look for aged cheddars from Vermont, New York State, and England, but always taste before buying. Give the onions two weeks of mellowing. Make up in small crocks or canning jars for giving, or in larger ones for the family. Keeps about 8 weeks in a cool place.

medium to small yellow onions, thinly sliced in rings
dark brown sugar
fresh tarragon leaves (or dried whole leaves)
apple cider vinegar

This is more a concept than a recipe. Have deep pottery or porcelain crocks or glass jars -- no metal containers. A small container would be two cups; a large one two quarts. Wash with hot, soapy water, rinse with boiling water and dry. Make a layer of onions thick enough to cover bottom of container. Completely cover onions with brown sugar. Sprinkle about 8 to 10 tarragon leaves and a little salt. Continue layering the same way, occasionally pressing down to compact, until container is full to within 1-inch of top. End with the sugar layer. Pour in enough vinegar to cover. Cover with a lid not crewed tight, or loosely with plastic wrap (not foil) and store in a cool, dark place. To use, pull onions out of crock, pile in a shallow bowl. Use atop cheese slices or as suggested above.


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