Caramelized Onions – Worth the Wait!
There are some things you just don’t take the time to learn…
In all the years that I have cooked I have often used sautéed onions, usually in place of caramelized onions. I don’t know why I never looked into the real difference before, but recently I decided to find out what is so special about caramelizing onions.
What I found is that it is very simple…the key being patience. By cooking the onions in a little olive oil and butter, very slowly for about an hour, you end up with something sweet and flavorful that can be used in many ways. I made them for a salad. Try it next time you want something rich and sweet to go with your meal.
- Several medium or large onions (I used Vidalia onions)*
- Olive oil (1 tsp. per onion)
- Butter (1 tsp. per onion)
*Five large onions yields about 2 cups caramelized onions
- Slice the ends off the onions and then cut them in half through root end. Peel the outer layer and slice each half in 1/4″ or more slices.
- Coat a large saute pan with the butter and olive oil. Heat the pan on medium high heat until the butter melts and the oil is shimmering.
- Add the onions, spreading them evenly over the pan. Let them cook. (If the onions begin to burn or dry out, lower your heat.)
- Cook for about 10 minutes and sprinkle with salt. If you want really sweet onions, also sprinkle about 1 tsp. sugar (I used brown sugar), over onions. (Another trick to keeping the onions from drying out is to add a little water to the pan.)
- Let them cook for 30 minutes to an hour more, stirring every few minutes. As soon as the onions start sticking to the pan, let them stick a little and brown, but stir them before they burn. Don’t stir too often, though, as they will not brown as well. You can also deglaze a time or two with white wine. After 20 or 30 minutes, you may also want to reduce the heat. Use a spatula, when necessary, to scrape the brown bits.
- Once they are a nice, rich brown, you are done.
- Store refrigerated for several days in an air-tight container.
As you can see, I was not as patient as I could have been. I could have browned them more, but I was running out of time before my company arrived, and since I tasted them and they were delightfully sweet, I took them off the heat.
You can use them to serve with steak, to make onion tarts, use them on pizza or in dips. Or, like I do, on a watermelon salad (recipe coming next time).