Technically, you couldn't make an onion confit, as the onion lacks it's own fat to cook itself in. And it also wouldn't form a stable and safe preservation for those reasons.
Marmalade technically requires fruit rind--usually citrus. Most of the "onion marmalade" recipes I've seen lack the fruit rind and are merely an onion jam. I've also never seen onion 'jams' preserved (home canned) as their acid balance is unsafe for this? Unsure here, I've just never seen it done and done safely.
The names are used loosely anymore to evoke that sense of the extraordinary in the really ordinary.
Here is and 'onion marmalade' I use from Helen Witty. It's not technically a marmalade either. My comments are in parentheses.
2 pounds paper thin sliced onions
3 tablespoons olive oil (If I knew I'd use it all in a week, I'd
use butter instead, but for keeping purposes olive oil is
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4-1/3 cup sherry vinegar (balsamic could be interesting too,
maybe thinned with some rice vinegar)
3 tablespoons honey or 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar.
2 teaspoons well crushed dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
pinch of cayenne
water (though an unsalted neutral stock would be fun to try)
Stir together the onions and olive oil in a nonreactice heavy
wide skillet. Cook, stirring often over medium heat until well
wilted and lightly colord. Pale gold, no more.
Stir in garlic, 1/4 cup of vinegar, honey, rosemary. Cook over
low heat stirring often until the mixture has ddepened in color
and is almost dry. Add enough water to reach to top of hte
onions. Cover partially. Cook over low with occasional stirring
until alsmot dry again. Test onions. Should hbae just a ghost of
a crunch. If crunchier, add more water and cool some more. Cook
until marmalade is light caramel in color and jamlike in texture
(using balsamic ruins the color test).
Remove from heat, cool. Season with salt, cayenne and more
vinegar as needed or honey or rosemary. Cap and store
refrigerated. Wil keep for a few weeks. Frozen, will keep for 2
months. Serve at room temp.
A lot of terms that used to mean something very specific are now bandied about because someone thinks they sound good. Confit is one; carpaccio, while actually a fairly recent coinage, is another; and jam/marmalade are yet more. The language of food is losing its Ecoffierian specificity in so many ways, but perhaps the freedom to name a dish based on what you THINK the term means is not all bad as long a people understand the general idea. Then again, maybe not.
In any case, that recipe is pretty close to something I used to make with red onions, and it is just great! Try it on a sandwich, or as an accompaniment to meat, especially pork. :lips:
When I went to Kump, I took a canning class. One of the products the teacher had us make (so we could can it) was onion confit. To this day, it's one of my biggest sellers.
Onion "confit" is like an eggplant "napoleon." It's one of those terms being assigned to a product for which it wasn't originally intended - but the "gist" is lent to the end product. Here, it can be interpreted as "preserved."
It seems to me that your objections to the use of the word "marmalade" for onions come from the fact that you give this word its English meaning, which is different from the "Latin" one.
In latin languages, a "marmalade" ("marmellata") does not necessarily require citrus rinds, but it's just opposed to the word "confiture" ("confettura") because of its homogeneous texture. On the other side, a "confiture" is supposed to contain solid fruit pieces.
So, you can't speak of an "onion marmalade", but you can speak of a "marmalade d'oignons" as well as a "confiture d'oignons".
In any case, the following recipe can be both an "Onion marmalade" and a "Confiture d'oignons"
CONFETTURA DI ARANCE E CIPOLLE
-3 lbs oranges
-2 lbs red onions (if you were in Italy you should use the so-called "Cipolle di Tropea")
-1 2/3 lbs granulated sugar
-1/2 lb vinegar
-1 chili pepper (optional)
Soak the oranges in water for 3 days, changing the water daily. Half them and cut them in thin slices. Peel and slice the onions. Mix them together in a large pot, add the chili and cook them for 30-40 mins over a low heat. Add the sugar and vinegar and cook another hour. Cool down and serve with matured cheeses. Closed in a glass jar and refrigerated, lasts up to a month.
This stuff is simple but it takes a while to make.
10 lb. onions
1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 1/2 cup Sherry Vinegar
Slice the onions very thin.
In a heavy dutch oven (Le Creuset is perfect) heat the olive oil. Add the onions and toss. Cook over very low heat (sweat) until onions shrink down to about half their volume. Add the sugar and cook the onions until they're down again by half volume. Continue cooking until most of the water that has come from the onions has evaporated. Add the vinegars, S&P and cook until the onions are very soft and some of the vinegar has evaporated.
I used to love selling stuff at the farmer's market. I especially liked using the produce from the farmers to make my products. Here's another.
Plum Peach Ginger Jam
4 C cooked plums (about 5 1/2 c raw - measure after cooking)
2 C peaches
2 T + 1 tsp. minced fresh Ginger
1/4 cup lemon juice
8 cups sugar
1 Pouch or envelope Pectin
In a large, heavy dutch oven, cook the plums until they break down a little, about 10 minutes. Then measure 4 cups cooked plums. Place cooked plums in a food processor and add cut up peaches, ginger and citrus juice. Process briefly to mix. Bring to a boil in the dutch oven, add pectin, stir and cook one minute. Add sugar, stirring to combine thoroughly, bring to a boil and boil hard for 2-3 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Pour into sterilized jelly jars and can in a BW bath per your altitude. (Sea level = 10 minutes.)