There was a certain something, texture, thickening and binding of flavours that I missed once I no longer started a recipe with sautéing onion and garlic. At first I thought it was just the flavour of the garlic that was missing. I was so used to always starting a savoury or main meal recipe the same way, that I had never thought a great deal about the alchemy of my dish. Even when cooking with garlic infused oil and onion infused wine, there was still a certain elusive something that was missing.
I needed to find the answer, because without that distinctly absent “something” food did not have the same comfort-value. And so my research began into the alchemy of my cooking. I thought more about the how and why, as well as flavour and fragrance.
A realisation quickly dawned on me that of course when there was no sautéed onion or garlic , there was no caramelisation to combine with de-glazing that gives all great food its edge. I had been leaving out the first stage of the recipe, I was so blinkered that I had a concept that only onions and garlic would do!
The next time I a made a casserole I finely chopped up some fresh ginger, capsicum, chillies, chives and a pinch of salt. Then I slowly sautéed them in a table spoon of garlic infused oil until they were softening and caramelising on the bottom of my Chasseur (a heavy based cast iron enamelled pan), then I de-glazed with a little onion infused wine and continued my recipe as before.
The end result was amazing, that certain something was back and my taste buds were satisfied once again.
Almost any vegetables or herbs can be used this way so long as they are chopped finely and sautéed slowly.