I heart caramelized onions.  They are the gateway to a plethora of fantastic taste combinations.  Creamy and sweet and salty, they are craved by many who think they are only for enjoying in restaurants.  Not true.

Caramelized onions are easy to make at home, the following ingredients plus an hour of your time will make about 2 cups:

  • 5 large onions (about 3 1/2 lbs sliced…this is NOT a typo)… See Note
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more to taste
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • pepper (not pictured), optional

NOTE:  You can caramelize any kind of onion, yellow, white, red, sweet.  I used a brand called Appalachian Sweets in this recipe.  Some caramelizing recipes call for the addition of a small amount of sugar to speed the process.  I think you get a better result without it. Just my opinion.

There are lots of ways to cut onions, here’s one. Cut off the top (not the root end).

Cut down the center, take off the “paper” and then slice into half rounds.  You can choose any thickness.  I’ve chosen 1/4 inch.

So you are going to cut a lot of onions now. And you will probably cry and have cathartic thoughts. Or maybe that’s just me.

When they are all sliced. Sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt over the onions and toss well with your hands. Let the onions sit for about 10-20 minutes. This will start the process of extracting the water from the onions.

Place a large saute pan over medium heat. My pan is 12″ wide by with 2.5″ sides. Pour in the 1/3 cup olive oil and add 1/4 cup unsalted butter to melt. Yes, that’s a lot of fat. Caramelized onions are orgasmically delicious, but they aren’t health food.

When the butter is melted and the oil is hot, add the onions. Discard any liquid from the raw onions that has collected in the bottom of the bowl. Toss the onions until they are coated in the fat. Mmmmm fat.

This is where what little skill is required comes into play. Caramelized onions should be brown, but not burned. The onions must sit long enough to start to brown a little, but not so long that they get black.

In the beginning, it’s all about extracting water. After 10 minutes, they will be kind of translucent and just starting to brown.

Continue to cook, tossing them frequently. If they are getting too dark, too soon, turn down the heat. After 20 minutes, they looked like this.

Believe it or not, you are almost done. The next 5 minutes, I did quite a lot of stirring to avoid burning. After 25 minutes, they were quite nicely brown.

These could be done now, but I like to take my onions even further.  The last 5 minutes, it’s a good idea to turn down the heat. Watch carefully and stir even more frequently to avoid burning. After 30 minutes, they are dark enough for my taste.

Add about 1/4 cup of your favorite white wine. And since the bottle is open anyway, might as well pour yourself a glass.

My daughter took this action shot.  Good job Kate!

Cook another 30 seconds, scraping the bottom of the pan.  This is called deglazing the pan.  The wine will all but evaporate. Turn off the heat.  Add salt and pepper to taste. OMG that is so freakin good! Bring the caramelized onions to room temperature and then you can store them covered in the fridge for a week.

What to do with them now? What not to do?  Caramelized onions are excellent in a sandwich, on a hamburger, or on top of a pizza.  They are wonderful on a salad.  Stir them into scrambled eggs, serve them with steak or chicken.  Mix into pasta for an instant sauce. They make fantastic bruschetta with blue cheese and an over-the-top onion dip.  Hell, eat them with a fork, you can’t go wrong.



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