Onion Sausage Toothpick Things

When I took my trip to Ireland, I ate a lot. Like. A lot. 15 pounds and near diabetic coma a lot.

Quite a few things stuck out to me that I loved: black pudding, Lucky’s mom’s mashed potatoes and gravy (drooollllllll, sooooo good), the guiness, the TEA (Oh GOD it’s good!). Even the battered fish was so excellent. Fish in Ireland has no smell. I walked right up to the fish counter at the grocery store and stuck my nose in it, so did the Texan who HATES fish, and nope, not a scent. If you’ve ever been near a fish counter here in the US, you KNOW you can smell that briney, fishy scent about a mile away.

But I came back with a simple obsession. Perhaps it’s because all the ingredients are available here or because it was something I could actually eat without rocketing my blood sugar. Either way, I’m an addict.

One night when Lucky was having a party at his place, Lucky’s mother made these little snack things. They were a piece of ham (though it was more like sausage), with a single cocktail onion and a single cube of cheese on each toothpick. I.ate.the.hell.out.of.those.

They are surprisingly good. Lucky gave me guff because he says his mother has been making those simple things all his life and why I would choose something so simple to bring back with me with such fervor is somehow funny. But I can’t stop eating them. And  everyone here that tries them is really surprised how good they are. How simple and how damn tasty.

So, first thing I did is I went to the store. In Ireland they are jars of pickled onions. Here, the closest ones I’ve found are called sour cocktail onions. And the jars are freaking TINY! Think like maybe a dozen little onions in each jar for like $4. Ugh. The things we will do for an addiction.

I’d put those on a toothpick with some colby jack, cheddar, or pepper jack, and a chunk of venison sausage and it was heavenly wonder. I ate that every single day, if not more than once a day. And then I ran out of onions. I’d gone through probably a dozen jars before I decided I’d try to make my own.

I went to a local market here and bought a bag of fresh mini onions. That was the first mistake. Those things are a PAIN IN THE ASS to peel. It was only later I learned you could use frozen. Duh.

I tend to like the onions really crisp, so I opted to do a fridge-type cure instead of canning because I didn’t want them going soggy. I figured how hard can it really be? A pickled onion, or a sour onion? Vinegar and salt, big whoop. I added spices for good measure because I wanted a spicy onion. Now THAT sounded good! So I added some red pepper flakes. And a whole jalapeno to add some spice to it.

Then I poured vinegar over it and let it sit in the fridge for 2 weeks.

Then I tried one, so excited! YAY! A seemingly endless supply of cocktail onions.

Epic. Fail.

It had flavor alright. It was spicy and the onions were firm and it tasted like biting into a huge crispy ball of vinegar. No. This wouldn’t work. I was pissed. I was heartbroken. I was back at the store buying more $4 a jar cocktail onions.

I’ve since seen several recipes to can cocktail onions, but I fear it. Mostly because they call for frozen onions. And the problem there is the between being frozen and cooking them, there’s going to be a soggy factor. And I’m NOT about to sit there and peel a million tiny little onions.

That doesn’t mean I’m not going to TRY to make my own. Even if those fail I can always use them in cooking. But still. It sucks. I really wanted this to work. And it didn’t. It was actually AWFUL!

I won’t give up my onion sausage cheese toothpick things. No way and you can’t make it, but I’ll admit a fail when there’s a fail. And this was a HUGE one. See, Martha Stewart never tells you THIS sh*t!


11 thoughts on “Onion Sausage Toothpick Things

  1. This might be obvious, but try googling “crispy pickled onions” and see what comes up. I bet it’s more labor intensive to get, but it will still be cheaper. I love snacks like this, so I’m going to try it. Thanks.

  2. Dammit! You are making me homesick with your talk of Guinness and fish.

    Sorry your adventures in pickling onions didn’t pan out. I wish I had some pithy words of advice but I’ve never dared to pickle anything, except beets and that was just off-the-charts revolting.

  3. Great post! You can’t miss with a combination like that! You had a great idea with the frozen onions – have you tried adding sugar to your brine mixture, boiling the liquid just until the sugar is dissolved, then pour over the onions? Let the mixture sit about an hour uncovered. Then cover and refrigerate for 24 hours before tasting. A ratio of 1 part sugar to 3 parts vinegar should create that “al dente” bite. The sugar will barely be noticeable. Plus add your other seasonings and pepper. Should work. I do this when my husband buys too many cucumbers to eat fresh. In my mass quantity days, it was nothing to peel 100 pounds at a time – talk about fumes!

    • I love this idea! I wonder though, would the sugar be something I’d have to worry about being diabetic? I know the onions I have have zero sugars, but I can’t figure out how it can have zero sugars and still be so crispy!

      • Yes, you do have to monitor your sugar intake. Something else that occurred to me after commenting was to decrease the sugar and add a coarse salt, such as kosher or sea salt. For examle, for every cup of vinegar, try 1/4 cup sugar and 2Tablespoons salt. What this does is the old osmosis trick, just like in chemistry class. The veggies won’t get mushy yet have some give to them. Of course if you eat every onion you pickle in one sitting, well… All food fits, just in moderation. I liked your description of how you made the onion sausage cheese skewers.

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