Monday, March 14, 2011

How to Caramelize Onions

The sweet, rich flavor and buttery texture of caramelized onions make them a temptingly delicious topping for steaks, burgers, roasts and sandwiches. Caramelized onions are also wonderful in omelets, quiche, salads, casseroles and other recipes. It's very easy to caramelize onions. The trick is to let them slow-roast until they turn a lovely golden-brown color so that they develop that depth of flavor that's prized by chefs and great cooks. Because caramelized onions can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week--and because I enjoy them in so many dishes--it makes sense to cook up a whole bunch at one time. You can use any kind of onion, but I prefer sweet onions like Vidalia(R) or Texas sweets. And never substitute margarine for the butter! This recipe makes about 3 cups of caramelized onions, but you can use the same technique with much smaller ingredient quantities if you only need a little bit of caramelized onion for a specific dish.

4 to 5 lbs onions
1/2 stick unsalted butter (4 Tbs)
2 Tbs vegetable or canola oil (you can use peanut or olive oil but they will add their flavor to the onions)

Peel the onions, then chop into about 1/4 inch pieces. Melt the butter with the oil in a large (5 qt) saucepan or saute pan over medium heat. When the butter mixture is hot, add the onions and cook, stirring constantly, until they just start to turn brown (about 10 minutes). Reduce heat to medium low and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are very soft and have turned a light golden-brown color (this can take around half an hour, more or less).

If not using all the onions right away, allow them to cool and then place in a lidded container and store in refrigerator for up to a week.

If desired, you can stir in a little of your favorite dry rub or seasoning blend into the caramelized onions.

Zestfully yours,

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