How a cartouche can help you cook onions and healthy stews
Have you ever checked your onions when cooking healthy soups, tagines and stews, and find they’ve gone all brown when you actually you wanted them to turn translucent instead?
This was once a common problem in my house. But I’ve discovered you just have to make a cartouche – a sort of lid for your onions made out of baking parchment.
It sounds weird but actually it’s really easy, and it does work. Your onions will just cook quietly, while you get on with doing something else.
It works by reducing evaporation, and, if you’re using it for a stew, it will help keep the all the ingredients submerged.
I’ve been doing a six-week Cooking with Confidence course at Leith’s School of Food & Wine every week, and this is one of the tricks that we’ve been taught and I now use regularly.
You can also use the cartouche method when you cook leeks to prevent them from browning. And it’s also useful if you’re cooking a casserole, soup, stew or stock, and you want to prevent the juice from evaporating, and keep everything submerged and simmering.
It just involves you getting a bit crafty with the greaseproof paper, but once you know how, it’s very easy – I’m not a particularly crafty person so if I can do it, anyone can.
How to make a cartouche
1. Grab a square of greaseproof paper
2. Fold it in half, and then half again
3. Take your two folded edges and bring them together to make a triangular shape
4. Fold the edges together to make a smaller triangle
5. Roughly measure from the centre of your cooking pot and tear where you think the outer edge should be
5. Open it out and you should have a circle
6. Crumple up your greaseproof circle, and give it a soaking under cold running water
Don’t skimp on the water bit – the first time I didn’t add enough and my onions burnt.
7. Fry your onions or leeks for a minute and then pop your cartouche on top
Alternatively, use it to top a casserole or stew. You’ll then need a lid over the top – especially if you’re cooking a soup, stock or stew.
8. Cook till the onion is translucent
Disclosure: I received a free Cooking with Confidence course at Leiths School of Food & Wine for review purposes.