There is a reason you often see pickled vegetables lurking in the corner of your favorite tray of barbecue. With its fatty richness, barbecue needs something to relieve the palate and keep you coming back for more. When tackling a full barbecue spread, I love to make little smoked meat sandwiches by nestling a little pulled pork in a piece of plain white bread and topping with pickles and a squirt of barbecue sauce. Other times, I’ll accompany a juicy bite of brisket with a few slices of pickled red onion to contrast the rich smoky complexity of the beef. Either way, pickled veggies are a welcome component to any plate of barbecue.
While you’ll often see barbecue served with raw sliced white onions and pickles — especially in Texas — I prefer to mix the two and serve up my brisket with homemade pickled red onions. These onions are sweet, tart, and pack a little heat from the red pepper flakes and dried Puya chiles. The addition of the allspice berries lends additional complexity and I like to use a combination of apple cider and white vinegar to get the flavor profile I’m looking for.
These pickled onions make great additions to sandwiches and burgers. And I’d be lying if I told you I haven’t eaten them straight from the jar with my fingers. Give them a try next time you smoke a brisket or need a little something to push your sandwich to the next level.
Pickled red onions make a great accompaniment to a plate of smoked meats and they can take your humdrum sandwich to new heights. Give these sweet, tart, and spicy onions a try.
- 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1 tbs granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 10 whole allspice berries
- 10 whole black peppercorns
- 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 dried puya chile
- Add the allspice berries, peppercorns and red pepper flakes to a pint size mason jar.
- Holding the puya chile over the mason jar, break it in half, spilling its seeds into the jar. Add the two broken halves of the chili to the jar.
- Add the water, vinegars, sugar, and salt to a medium sauce pan. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.
- Add the sliced onions, stir, and press down so they are submerged in the pickling liquid.
- Bring the pickling liquid with the onions to a brief boil (5-10 seconds) and remove from the heat.
- Using a large slotted spoon, remove the onions from the sauce pan and add to the mason jar.
- Pour the pickling liquid over the onions until the mason jar is nearly full.
- Seal the mason jar with the lid and let cool to room temperature. The onions can be enjoyed immediately or kept in the refrigerator for about a week.
- If you have an aversion to spicy food, omit the red pepper flakes and puya chiles. You can also use dried Guajillo chiles as a more mild alternative.
- Feel free to experiment with the spices to suit your tastes. There are no rules here.