I discovered this little gem just a couple of years ago. It seemed like every time I picked up a cooking magazine or tuned into the Food Network I saw someone making/serving pickled onions. I tried a couple of recipes and we fell in love with this one. I think it is a combination of several I found in different places but I am not really sure. All I have is the recipe scribbled on a partial piece of yellow legal paper. I keep it tacked to my kitchen bulletin board so I can make these regularly. Truth be told at this point I could probably make them in my sleep though.
There is pretty much always a jar with some of these in our fridge. We use them all the time. They are great on sandwiches of all kinds and just as fantastic in a green salad. I have thrown them into almost every recipe that calls for pickles or pickle relish and so far they have been a huge hit every time. I know that both my son and I have on occasion just grabbed a few to eat on their own too. They really are that good.
I like to store ours in a quart size canning jar. I do this for several reasons first off I have a bunch of them around from the canning that my mom, my grandma and that I have done over the years. The jars are easy to clean and can withstand the hot brine solution going in with the onions. Also the lids give a nice seal so the pickly awesomeness doesn't invade the rest of the contents of the fridge.
I like to heat the brine up in the microwave for about 2 minutes. I tried doing them without heating the liquid up and we just prefer the results this way. The brine doesn't need to come to a boil, just get it hot enough to steam a bit and to dissolve the salt and sugar. I use Tabasco in ours but use your favorite hot sauce, after a batch or two you will know how much to use. I use about 3 or 4 good splashes of it and we find it to be perfect.
These really are best after a day or so, the onions need some time to get friendly with the brine and begin to break down a bit. I really don't know how long they will keep because they have never lasted long enough to find out. The brine is a wonderful addition to salad dressings and just about anywhere else you would use vinegar. It turns a very pretty magenta color from the onions and takes on the flavor of the onions very quickly.
Pickled Red Onions
½ cup red wine vinegar
½ cold water
2 Tablespoons Kosher salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
3 or 4 dashes hot sauce (or to taste)
1 large red onion sliced