Overindulgence in the cornucopia of Thanksgiving delights has rendered me unable, for the time being, to continue my seemingly endless treatise on how to host a blog carnival.  I’m going to talk instead about the topic foremost on my mind right now – food. Now let’s talk turkey! Actually, as someone who tries (but sometimes fails) to keep a vegetarian diet, I don’t eat turkey or any other meat, even on Thanksgiving. This makes the traditional holiday feast pretty tough to pull off. Believe me, we’ve tried all kinds of substitutes for the obligatory animal protein centerpiece. Unfortunately, every option, from the oddly textured Tofurkey to a savory Sizzling Yuba Log, falls short. How fortunate it is, then, that Thanksgiving offers so many excellent opportunities for side dishes. We may want for protein but we never run out of starches and carbs!

No matter where we spend Thanksgiving, I like to bring a couple of dishes, my particular traditions. One contribution that generated a lot of enthusiasm this year at our large family gathering was my usual Caramelized Onions and Chestnuts. In fact, some people enjoyed it so much that I was pressed for the recipe. No wonder, considering the rich, complex flavor of this surprising combination of ingredients. Since I’m typing out the recipe for e-mail anyway, I thought I’d share the bounty. This dish calls for cipoline, also known as cipollini, onions, a wonderful Italian heirloom that is usually available throughout autumn, at least here in the northeast U.S. It’s obviously too late to make this recipe part of your Thanksgiving celebration this year, but plenty of other holidays are right around the corner. Bon apetit!

NOTE: This recipe is not of my own creation. However, I’ve been using it for so long that its source is completely lost to me. I apologize for the lack of attribution. Whoever dreamed up this delicacy is a culinary genius!

Caramelized Onions and Chestnuts

3 lbs. cipoline onions, peeled and trimmed
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup water
3 tbs. butter
2 tbs. sugar
1 tbs. champagne vinegar
1 oz. cognac
1 cup prunes, chopped coarsely
1 15oz. jar chestnuts
salt, pepper, parsley to taste

1. Combine stock, water, butter, vinegar, and sugar in a large pan. Bring to a boil.
2. Add onions. Reduce heat and cook until onions are golden, approximately 30 minutes.
3. Add cognac, chestnuts, and prunes. Cook until heated through.
4. Season to taste.

Written by Mike
Mike is a leading authority in the field of standardized test preparation, but he's also a traveler who fully expects to see every bird in the world. Besides founding 10,000 Birds in 2003, Mike has also created a number of other entertaining but now extirpated nature blog resources, particularly the Nature Blog Network and I and the Bird.