A fried allium is the perfect finishing touch. Whether on top of a medium-rare steak, a creamy potato soup, or a gooey bowl of macaroni and cheese (or like, a salad or something), fried onions, leeks, garlic and the like provide crispy texture and salty, umami-rich, slightly pungent flavour. In short, they are desirable. They also just got a bit more convenient, thanks to this microwave method from Cook's Illustrated.
Photo by Claire Lower
We all know to save bird bones to make stock, but the excess skin and fat you find yourself with after butchering a piece of poultry is just as valuable. With very little effort on your part, you can render out some of the tastiest cooking fat around.
Not only is cooking them in the microwave a lot more hands-off (no-continuous stirring needed), it frees up stove top space and contains oil splatters. The details are slightly different for each allium - click the link below to read up - but the basic method is the same: Add your sliced allium to a half cup of oil in a microwave safe bowl, and cook in two-minute increments on full power until they begin to brown, stirring in between. Once they get a little colour on them, decrease the cooking time to 30 seconds, and continue to cook and stir until they're a "deep golden". Transfer your savoury treasures to a paper towel to drain and crisp up, and season with salt.
Though Cook's Illustrated only mentions leeks, shallots and garlic, I tried this micro-method with a plain ol' onion and fared quite well. I did however, find they weren't quite as crisp as I liked at first, but that was easily fixed by popping them back in the microwave on a fresh paper towel for about 10 seconds. This also worked well for re-crisping after they were stored in the fridge, which means you can pre-batch a bunch of fried alliums, then re-crisp them at you leisure, and I love a leisurely onion.
How to Make Microwave-Fried Shallots, Garlic, and Leeks [Cook's Illustrated]