Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How to: Caramelize Onions

As I started cooking more, I came to realize the value of a good old onion. They can add so much flavor and are the base of so many good recipes (sauces, soups, stir fries...).

I first started being obsessed with onions when my mom caramelized them and had them at the table of our family barbecues. Those babies with some barbecue sauce on top of a char grilled burger made my mouth water. When I started cooking more, every time I made steak, all I could think about was how outrageously good caramelized onions would be dripping on top of a medium rare slab of meat.

BUT I COULD NEVER EVER DO IT. They either burned into oblivion or still had the harsh raw onion bite. I tried. And I tried again.

Finally...I MASTERED THEM.

I don't want to toot my own horn, but after tonight's onion experiment, I could have eaten just the onions on a plate and been wildly satisfied. Let me share my fool proof way of HOW TO CARAMELIZE ONIONS.

Here's what you will need:
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion (or whatever sort of leftover onions you have)
salt and pepper
honey

And here's what you do:
First, cut your onion in half then cut into about 1/4 or 1/2 inch thick slices.
Completely melt the 2 tablespoons of butter into a skillet over low to medium heat (I did this entire process on LOW heat because pans get hotter a LOT faster on gas ranges).
Add the onions and sprinkle with salt. Your pan should not make an intense sizzling sound when you add the onions. You should only barely hear an undertone of sizzle. This will allow the onions to sweat out their water content without sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Give the onions a gentle stir, about once every 2 minutes.
When the onions become more translucent and have a yellow hue, once again sprinkle with salt and a relatively generous amount of black pepper. Stir again.
Now! What I have come to regard as the secret to perfection (or, at least perfect caramelized onions). Drizzle, in a slow stream, a bit of honey over the onions. It should only be about as much honey as you would put in a cup of tea. Stir and evenly coat your beautiful onions with the honey and seasonings.
Continue to simmer until they are at the level of caramel goodness that you desire. Here are my heavenly bites of joy:


And that's it! It is a little timely because you are doing more of a slow cook. But these beautiful, delicious onions are well worth the wait! And in between, you have plenty of time to prep your meat and any other side dishes you are making that night! Good luck, and happy eating :-)

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