I’m not the only kitchen-dweller turning to slow food to keep me occupied during quarantine. Everywhere I turn is a tenderly roasted leg of something, a wild garlic pesto blended in small batches by hand in a pestle and mortar, a sourdough loaf three days in the making.
We’re gravitating towards these methods because they use up some of the time so many of us have a little more of now. More laborious recipes have undeniable meditative and grounding qualities. After all, the things that used to ground us – the first sip of cold beer after a stressful day, an hour in the gym to set us up for the being sat at the office, a day spent putting the world to rights with our best friend – are no longer available to us.
While eating properly keeps us physically well, I’d argue that the preparation of food itself can play a huge part in keeping us mentally well too.
If you’re usually an on-the-table-in-15 minutes cook and you’ve been struggling lately with the same anxieties that we’re all sharing, try cooking slowly one day this week. Lose yourself entirely in the process and see how it makes you feel. If you hate it and it doesn’t help you whatsoever, you’ll have gained a delicious meal and lost a little time – and if you’re reading this, I’d wager you’ve got a bit of that to throw around at the moment.
For me, there’s no better example of slow food than caramelised onions. The longer, lower and slower you cook them, the better they are. Chop them finely, set them on a low heat and potter about in the kitchen, stirring them from time to time, until the pan is sticky and golden.
Caramelised onions lend themselves well to most alcohols, I just happened to have a can of rum and coke in the cupboard and used it in place of the beer I’d usually infuse them with and they made for such a pleasant grilled cheese experience that I wanted to share them.
Makes enough for 4-6 grilled cheeses (they’ll keep in the fridge for a good few days)
Half a can of pre-mixed rum and coke (I used the Captain Morgs one)
- Slice your onions as finely as you can manage
- Heat a knob of butter and a drizzle of olive oil in a non-stick pan
- Add the onions, making sure the heat is as low as possible, and stir
- Keep stirring every few minutes or so, adding a little water at a time if you’re worried about the onions sticking, until they’re really starting to brown. Mine were on for at least an hour.
- Pour in the rum and coke and stir until it’s evapourated.
- Set aside, ready for heaping in to grilled cheese sandwiches or stirring through cooked pasta..