Chefs: What could I substitute for onion?


Terez

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I know we have some chefs active on the forums here. I can't eat onions. It's a sensitivity. Onions and peanuts give me terrible cramping.

Almonds substitute just fine for peanuts, so that one's covered. But I'm stumped when it comes to compensating for onions in a recipe.

Looking at the liverwurst thread, I'd sure love to try some of those recipes but they contain a sizeable proportion of onion and I don't think it would work just to leave it out.

What could I try as a substitute for onion?

Garlic doesn't bother me so if you know of an ingredient that would caramelize but wouldn't add the allum flavor, I could add a bit of garlic to handle the allum flavor.

It may be that there's just nothing that'll do the trick. But I thought I'd ask.

Terez

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Oh darn. I do kind of like the idea of garlic and fennel in chopped liver. It will be an experiment but it could be awesome.

Equal amounts fennel to onion or should I adjust downward to compensate for the fennel flavor (so it's not too strong)?

Treat it the same as onion (does fennel caramelize)?

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This is the recipe. (I just realized, I don't have chicken livers! So this is going to have to wait until I get some, which will be in about ten days since I'll want them to be from pastured chickens.)

Here is my chopped liver recipe..... 2 lbs chicken livers sauted until well done in coconut oil. Traditionally you use chicken fat but I haven't found any " natural ". ( you can always add pork belly and it's fat but kinda goes against the spirt of Jewish deli.... Lol but more delish). Remove from pan and Cool

Dice one med yellow onion... At least 3/4 cup ( naturally sweet) and sauté in same pan with more coconut oil until very very golden brown...lots of carmelazation is important. Cool in the oil and save all

Once cooled down place livers,onions with cooking oil, 2 hard boiled eggs, sea salt and plenty of fresh ground black pepper in a food processor....

Pulse until smooth and enjoy......

This calls for "at least 3/4 cup" of onion. So would I use half a cup of fennel?

I just went to order the chicken livers: $5/lb. Would it work to cut the recipe in half and experiment with $5 worth of liver rather than $10 worth? Seems like there aren't a whole lot of ingredients and just salt and pepper for seasoning.

Hm. Maybe this isn't the best recipe to use since onion is such a major ingredient.

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I think you should cut it in half (so you don't use it all and not like it) and use 1/4 cup fennel. Maybe a hair more. It really does sweeten up when cooked. In the same thread, I think, I posted a recipe called Mean Jeans Chopper Livid. Typos intentional. It calls for a little mayo which makes it a little softer than liverwurst. Otherwise, I think the recipes are similar.

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I just looked back there and found your recipe, Susan:

I think I promised this chopped liver recipe. It's my Jewish friend Betsy's moms recipe. It's called Mean Jean's Famous Chopper Livid. All typos are on purpose but there was nothing mean about Jean. :)

2 T rendered chicken fat (from pastured chickens of course), 1/2 lb chicken livers, 2 ribs celery chopped, 1 small onion finely chopped,1 minced garlic clove, 2 HB eggs chopped, 1/4 tsp basil, pinch oregano, salt, pepper and 2 tsp homemade mayo. Melt chicken fat. Saute liver, onions, celery and garlic over med high heat. When partially done, add seasonings. Cook well. Cool and add eggs. Chop chop chop in wooden bowl with a mezaluna..I have always used my processor..don't tell Jean. Add mayo and test for seasonings. Should be a smooth spreadable texture. Delish on celery or belgium endive. Enjoy. :)

Yours calls for a half-pound of chicken livers. This amount would be easier to start with. Small onion = 1/4 cup of onion (so, less of fennel)? Or...maybe I could skip fennel since onion is a less prominent ingredient in this recipe?

I have a mezzaluna. But will use the food processor!

Terez

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Chopper Livid..lol

Also- I think at some point I was googling FODMAPS and came across some kind of dry spice I'd never heard of (and sadly, can't remember) to replace onion, that tastes like it but is not an allum. I think for these recipes you can do without like you said, but if it's a forever-no-onion kind of thing I would keep looking and experimenting. Ya know, for kitchen nerd fun.

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Thanks to google i found the below

Try:

asafetida (Indian spice) but there are some folks that react similarly to it, even though it is not an allium. Just depends on the nature of your reaction I think... Also apparently super stinky before it is cooked

Ginger, white pepper and oregano together

Ramps (wild garlic shoots)

Chippollis: not onions, but grape hyacinth bulbs... Oniony in flavor

Grated radish

Lovage (herb)

Endive and fennel together

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Wow, lots of interesting ideas.

I'll look for that spice, asafetida.

I think fennel + endive is what I'll try when a recipe seems to "need" onion and when there's caramelization involved. (Hopefully fennel and endive will caramelize.)

I don't much care for ginger nor oregano, so that combo doesn't appeal to me.

I'm pretty sure ramps are wild onions, not wild garlic. I'm afraid to try them.

I didn't find chippollis when I searched but I did find cipollinis and the sites I found said they are small onions. Again, I'd be afraid to experiment with them.

As far as food issues go, I think I have it pretty easy compared to a lot of people. And I'm very lucky that garlic doesn't bother me.

Thanks so much for your research!

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Asafetida! That's the one I read about! Thank you!!

But oh, ginger + white pepper + oregano, yum, that and fennel (endive when I can get it too) will be my go tos. I really want to focus on the FODMAPS this go around and see which do in fact give ne troubles. I am also going to experiment with culturing them to see if the fermentation process will alter the chemistry enough to make them seamlessly digestible.

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I was thinking about the chopped liver my mom makes and, though she uses a lot of onions, it doesn't have a strong "oniony" flavor. They are cooked a lot and therefore are more sweet. Have you thought of using roasted(or slowly cooked in the pan) garlic? It gets very brown and sweet. It's a distinctive flavor, different from carmelized onions, but I think it would work well. My only concern is whether you can tolerate a large amount of garlic

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Katey, you and I are thinking along the same lines. It was the caramelizing of the onion that made me think that I should be looking for a sweet caramelized substitute (the fennel suggestions).

I had wondered about bell peppers, if they would mimic the sweetness.

Was hoping some chefs might have encountered this and come up with substitutions.

I think I'm going to try Susan's "Mean Jean" recipe and leave the onions out. There are enough other ingredients and spices that the onion doesn't seem to have such a major role. (And it's a smaller recipe!)

My chicken livers won't show be delivered until the end of next week so it'll be a little while yet before I make this.

Thanks, Katey!

Terez

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