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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Gourmet Fried Onion Pieces!

In this instance we were not the kiss of death! The item was just “seasonal” and now it’s back!

I’ve gotten ahead of myself. Let me back up...

Here in the U.S. something called a “Green Bean Casserole” has been a winter holiday classic since the mid 1950s. The key ingredients in the recipe from the Campbell Soup Company are green beans, Cream of Mushroom Soup and French’sⓇ French Fried Onions.

Last winter, we were in Trader Joe’s and on a whim I picked up a can of their “Gourmet Fried Onion Pieces”. I think the first way I experimented with them was to sprinkle a few on the top of individual gratin dishes of macaroni and cheese, made with chunks of tomato. Oh my! It was scrumptious. Before using them, as the cook in the kitchen, I had taken a small taste of the T.J.’s Onion Pieces straight out of the can. In the past, I had done the same thing with the French’s canned onions. I still have the sense memory of a thick, gummy coating left on my tongue after the French’s. But the Trader Joe’s just tasted like, well, crispy, fried, onions - nothing gummy; no unpleasant coating lingering in my mouth. I should note that the Trader Joe’s are accurately labeled as onion “pieces”. You won’t find the pretty little onion rings that you will in the French’s cans. That aesthetic may be important to you, but for me, the taste and texture of the Trader Joe’s Onion Pieces win by a country mile.

So I continued to experiment with this new ingredient. (They were insanely good on baked potatoes.) Based on how this post began, you already know what happened next. Yup. We went back to Trader Joe’s to pick up another can to stash in the pantry and they were gone. Kiss of death that we are, the managers soon saw our familiar, pitiful faces at their counter. That’s when they told us the Onion Pieces were “seasonal”. Immediate gratification was not to be ours, but we still had hope. A few weeks ago, as they geared up for the winter holidays, we began to see displays of “seasonal” items in TJs. Finally, on a recent visit, they were there - same tin, same UPC, same delicious crispy bits inside. Don’t wait until January. Put them on your grocery list and get thee to a TJs!


True family story:
Many years ago, my Mom made the Green Bean Casserole for a big family dinner. Everyone was carefully spooning out a serving of the casserole with the decadent layer of crispy onions on top. About halfway around the table, my cousin D got to the dish. He took the serving spoon and, for some still unfathomable reason, vigorously stirred it all up together - effectively drowning the coveted crispy onion crust.

I remember a collective gasp.

I never saw cousin D again...





: : Update: In response to a Thanksgiving Eve request from “speterson”, here is a photo of the recipe off the back of the Trader Joe’s Gourmet Fried Onion Pieces. Enjoy!
Click on the photo to get a better look.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't remember a cousin D of the male persuasion????

Nor do I remember anyone swirling up the green bean casserole. I must have been distracted by Mom's delicious and never been able to replicate turkey gravy.

Nobody should mess with that piece of perfection!!!!

Gail

Pink Granite said...

Hi Gail -
If you don't remember Cousin D *, then that just proves my story true that we never saw him again!

Actually. Mom can still recount that story!

And you're right, Mom's turkey gravy was/is awesome!
;o)
- Lee

P.S. * Think of Uncle A & Aunt R's youngest...

dancingmorganmouse said...

Was cousin D murdered and thrown down a well?
Do home-fried onions just not make the cut somehow? O how I love the smell of frying onions.

Pink Granite said...

Hi DMM -
If by fried onions, you mean sauteed in a bit of oil and/or butter, then no. For this application they need to be quite crispy.
If you mean battered and deep fried, well that's a different sort of production!
These TJ's fried onion pieces have been dredged in flour and fried. When you open the can the pieces are very crispy and crunchy.

As for cousin D -
well -
I'm afraid I'm not at liberty to say any more...

;o)
- Lee

Anonymous said...

light bulb just went off.

Gail

Roo said...

Goodness - remind me, don't mess with your plate!

One swish and that's it! What on earth happened to cousins A, B and C ???

;o)

PS - I want a Trader Jacks

Pink Granite said...

Hi Gail -
I knew it would!
;o)
- Lee


Hi Roo -
A, B & C had the good sense not to ruin the freakin' Green Bean Casserole!
You totally need a Trader Joe's over there!
;o)
- Lee

barbie2be said...

tj's crispy onions... YUM!!!!!

speterson said...

We can't find the onions this year at TJ's but we need the recipe on the back for green bean casserole! Any chance you have that - or even a high res-pic of the back of the can! Anybody else out there?? Thanks.

Pink Granite said...

Hi SPETERSON -
We've been lucky. The TJs Fried Onion Pieces have been plentiful in all the stores around here.

We're working on a photo of the back of the can now...

Check back in a bit...
;o)
- Lee

speterson said...

WOW!! - thanks we'll check back in the morning.

Pink Granite said...

Hi SPETERSON -
Ummmm...
It's already there at the bottom of the post!
Just click on it to see a bigger version.
Happy Thanksgiving!
;o)
- Lee

speterson said...

oops - guess it was too late! thanks so much - the cooking has begun!