Chopping Onions for Chili

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 16,746
    Firehouse chef Tom Papoutsis shows how to chop onions to add flavor to the chili.

    Tom Papoutsis

    Tom Papoutsis is a “Firehouse Chef” that currently holds the rank of Lieutenant with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department. Tom’s experience in the Fire Service spans over 29 years, 19 of which have been with Fairfax County. The bulk of his firehouse culinary expertise has been practiced during his tenure there. He was a national finalist in the 2004 Tabasco Cook & Ladder Competition finishing in the top 10 of the nations Firehouse Chef’s, and traveled to New York City to compete in a cook off with his peers. He has also been placed on the “charity” auction block several times to prepare meals for the highest bidder. Tom likes to specialize in Italian and Greek cuisine being of the same heritage, but also enjoys preparing Asian and of course “Good Ole American” foods as well. He concentrates on entrées but also has a few hors d’oeuvres and dessert specialties as well, such as his versions of Bruschetta and Amaretto Cheesecake. For the past year he has been studying the practice of making homemade Italian deli meats and sausages. Tom’s motto: “It’s just cooking, not rocket science, take a chance…..you might like it!” Residing in Chambersburg, PA with his wife JoAnn, twins Jonathan & Katie and “Buddy” their Golden Retriever. Tom enjoys cycling, hunting, fishing, woodworking, raising his children and helping form today’s youth while volunteering with son Jonathan’s Cub Scout pack. Tom can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]

    Lieutenant Tom Papoutsis: Next, we are going to go to our onions. We have got three of these huge sweet onions, but what we are going to do, I am going to show you a quick basic simple way, we are going to cut the ends off here, these end up into here, we will get some of that out of there. Id like to take my onions, slice down in the middle, and then it makes it easier to get the peel off. Just kind of take off all the outer skin thats kind of dried, you can see there is a difference how yellow that is, and then once we get into the center here, it starts to get a little more white thats where we want to be. So, you are going to lose about one or two layers typically of the onion. So, we are going to peel this back.

    Now, the way I learned to do onions was the way my grandmother used to do it, and this little woman used to take and she would slice these onions down, not all the way through, but you would slice it down like that, and then take and what I do is I come through, and I dont go all the way back, I am staying right here, and I kind of cut it like that, and this is going to dice very easily, because I am going to take my fingers and I am going to hold that altogether. I am going to come straight down through, and when its done, you are going to see these are real nice little pieces of diced onion. When we get down to that point, where we stop we have this, I just flip it over, and we are just going to chop it, just like that. We are going to do that with all of our onions and that will give us a nice chop. Dont be too concerned about making your onions, real tiny small, this is chili okay, its not Rocket Science. I call it Kitchen Chemistry, but this is chili, and we want some big pieces in there.

    There is our onion, we are going to go ahead and do that one a little bit later.