Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My Cooking Attempts: Caramelized Onions

In my previous post, David's Favorite Burger, I used homemade caramelized onions as a burger topping and promised to share my recipe. I have tried various methods of making these delicious onions, slow cooker, stove top, butter, oil, honey, sugar, balsamic, etc. and so far this is my favorite recipe for the deeply rich flavor of caramelized onions. The trick is not rushing the process and mixing during the perfect time. You want to allow them to brown before you mix, but mix before they burn. Don't worry it isn't as hard as it sounds. Try it, you will see.

5 large sweet onions
Note: Any onion will do, however, the sweet onions, as least in my humble opinion, caramelize better and have a deeper flavor. I have used other types of onions with great success. So use whatcha' got at home.
3 tsp EVOO
3 tsp butter
Salt, to taste
1 tsp sugar (optional)
2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
Water or chicken broth, as necessary

Slice all five onions. Does that sound daunting and a little teary to you? Don't worry, it's not too hard if you follow these instructions:
Trim the stem end of the onion.

Slice in half. Pull skin back, but don't remove.
Slice by making angled cuts into the onion. Don't slice all the way through to the root, this will allow the onion to stay together. Try to slice them on the thinner side.

Chop off the root end. Voilá all done!

Heat a large cast iron skillet, medium high heat.
Note: You can use a stainless steel pan as well. I would recommend staying away from nonstick skillets because they tend to impede the caramelization process.
Add butter and EVOO to skillet. When the butter has melted, add the onions. Stir to coat with butter and oil. Lightly salt.
The onions will cook down in stages. First they will reduce in volume and become translucent.

Then they will begin to brown. This is when you want to stop yourself from over mixing. If you move the onions around too often it will take longer to properly caramelize. Remember we want them to brown, without burning.
At this point you should probably lower the heat to medium low. If you notice the onions are burning then it might be a good idea to add a little water or chicken broth, about 2 tablespoons at a time, as needed.

Once they are all browned you will notice their volume has reduced to more than half their original size. At this point add the balsamic vinegar and sugar, if using. I used just one teaspoon of sugar. You can add more if you'd like. I didn't think that I needed more with these sweet onions. In regards to the vinegar, any balsamic vinegar will do. I used a sweet date balsamic vinegar I bought from Vom Fass. OMG that stuff is delicious!

Continue cooking the onions for about another 15 minutes. The whole process takes about one hour. Wanna know when they are done? They will have a deep drown color, your house will smell delicious, and you won't be able to stop "tasting" them.

It takes a little time, but these onions are oh so worth it. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for future use on burger, soups, pizza, basically anything you set your mind to! They will seriously elevate any meal.
What's your favorite way to enjoy caramelized onions?

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