There is a top-secret element that not many will tell you about caramelizing onions: time.
You can try to short-cut it all you want, but your end result is always going to be sub-par. In caramelizing onions properly, patience is a virtue. You’ll need about an hour, grasshopper.
An hour, and three ingredients.
- 2 yellow onions (you can also use white onions, or for a more interesting depth of flavor, red onions)
- 2 tablespoons butter (salted or unsalted, whatever floats your boat)
- 1/4 cup chicken stock (or pretty much any clear liquid: water, beef stock, white or red wine, sherry, amontillado, etc.)
How simple is that?!? The stars of the show are your onions – grab two of them.
You’ll also need a little butter and a little chicken stock. And in a perfect world, a not-non-stick pan. Since all I have is a non-stick, that is what we’re going to work with here.
Start by slicing your onions. They must be thin. The easiest way I found to accomplish this is to first cut each end off,
then slice the onion in half lengthwise. Take each half and cut into thin slices.
Melt the butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Allow the butter to get nice and frothy and happy.
Once your butter is frothy, add the onions (separate them a bit with your fingers as you add them to the pan). Give the whole thing a good stir to coat the onions and pop the heat down to low. Here are the onions after they’ve been stirred and coated with frothy butter.
Now comes the “patience” part.
Unlike a mac and cheese, where you and the whisk practically become one during the process, you really don’t want to stir these too much. Maybe once every five minutes or so. Here they are after cooking over low heat for ten minutes.
Great start! Here they are at twenty minutes.
Right around the twenty-minute mark, the house begins to small amazing. And this from someone who cannot stand raw onions. Here they are at thirty minutes.
Looking good, right? Still, not quite done yet. Here they are at forty minutes.
Almost there! I gave them another five minutes, then added the chicken stock to deglaze the pan. Make sure you scrape up all the yummy brown bits.
So for me, it was about 45 minutes of cook time.
Remove the caramelized onions from heat, then either dish up and serve, or allow them to cool if you’re using them in another recipe.
Voila! Now you know exactly how to caramelize onions.
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