How to caramelize onions
Posted by fourclankitchen on July 18, 2010
There is nothing quite as satisfying as caramelized onions. Caramelizing them takes patience, but once you have done it: wow! Their sugars burn just a little and add a divine dimension to everything from French Onion Soup to Indian curries to mashed potatoes. They are easy to make if you are patient. Here is how:
1/2 to 1 stick (1/2) cup butter (depending upon your intended use, see below); Can substitute 1/2 oil + 1/2 butter.
2 large onions, thinly sliced (use a food processor)
Salt to taste.
Use the largest frying pan you have:, a 12″ pan is good. Melt the butter on a low flame. When all the butter is melted, add the sliced onions to the pan and stir to completely coat the onions with butter. Add salt and mix again. The onions should form a monolayer and should not be piled on top of each other. Save any onions that do not fit for another use.
Turn the flame to LOW and let the onions cook. You can go about your business, just come back every 5 minutes or so, turn the onions over and walk away. Repeat. Depending on how low you go on the flame, full caramelization will take between 20 min- 1 hr. The onions are done when they are a rich caramel brown, taste sweet and mellow and are not crispy. You definitely don’t want crispy. You can also add a bit of sugar (1-2 tsp per 2 onions) to speed up caramelization.
If you need the onions immediately, stick around instead of walking away and cook the onions on a medium flame with frequent stirring. The cooking time can be reduced by half if you do this. When the onions are perfectly done, taste and adjust the salt. Use as a garnish on pilafs, on soups, on top of burgers, kebabs or as I said above, in mashed potatoes. I use a full stick of butter if I plan to freeze the onions or to make mashed potatoes. I just dump the onions and all of the butter into my boiled potatoes which taste absolutely wonderful. However, if I were using these to garnish say a burger, I would use the lower quantity of butter, dry them on paper towels before use.
The onions can be frozen in the cooking butter for a couple of months and used as needed.