Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Technique Tuesday: Caramelizing Onions

Caramelizing onions takes them to an entirely different level of flavor. The result of correct caramelization is a sweet and savory bite that barely resembles its uncooked self. The caramelizing process brings out the sugar in the onion, browning and sweetening it until the onions are soft and delicious. I love making caramelized onion quesadillas ~ it's one of those go-to recipes for me on evenings when I'm by myself, and the cupboards are in need of a big shopping trip. These sweet and fragrant onions are also a delicious topping for a steak or a grilled burger and can be used to flavor a variety of dips and spreads. There are a few tricks to caramelizing onions correctly:
1) Cook them low and slow. Low heat will be the magical touch that takes your onions from sauteed to silky and sweet. Don't rush the process either; caramelizing takes about 15-20 minutes.
2) Wait to add salt. Adding salt at the beginning of the cooking process will draw out the onion's water and impede the development of that amazing golden-brown color.
3) Make sure that you slice all of your onions to roughly the same size. You want them to cook uniformly; if some pieces are much bigger than others, the smaller pieces will burn while the others are still cooking.

Caramelized Onions:
Add sliced onions to a pan on medium-high heat with a drizzle of olive oil and a small pat of butter on the bottom. Saute onions for 1-2 minutes or until they begin to turn golden. Turn heat to low and allow onions to cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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