I remember the first time I attempted caramelized onions. It was only about two years ago. I had been afraid. It seemed like something reserved for obsessive cooks that have hours to tend to a stove. It also seemed out of my abilities. Like most things in the kitchen, caramelized onions couldn’t be easier to make, and add a flavour that no sauteeting with herbs will ever get you. Below is the ‘quickie’ recipe that home cooks can enjoy. The onions are just as delicious as the all-day method. 🙂
It’s best to do this in large batches and refrigerate them because of the amount of time it takes. I have yet to make enough to have any leftovers but I always want to. The more onion the more its juices flow out to help flavour and consistency. The onions also shrink significantly as you can see in the photos.
The basic formula
- several onions (I prefer organic sweet yellow but any white/yellow will do because they will sweeten up)
- balsamic vinegar (optional)
- a smidgen of sea salt
Slice the onions thin but not for-salad thin. I like to cut across the whole onion horizontally. The longer the strands the better. Throw this into the widest stainless steel (ideal for health) pan you have that’s heated up over medium heat. Sprinkle a smidgen of salt.
Do not put any oil. You might be tempted but don’t. The first time I did this I did because I just couldn’t understand that all you need is water (hello, healthy!) With the oil, it didn’t have that taste we’re after, despite what some recipes online say.
With a silicone or wooden spatula move the onions around for a couple of minutes until they start sticking. Then add water and scrape the onions. Once the water has evaporated and the onions are starting to stick again, add more water. Keep doing this for about 45-90 minutes. This will depend on how impatient you are. Note that for the first 20-30 minutes it may look like they are never going to brown. They will. 🙂
About 30 minutes in, I like to lower the heat to medium-low and take more time cooking the onions out. You don’t have to keep a meticulous eye on the onions but try to be in the kitchen to listen for progress. 🙂 Once they start looking medium brown/brown and sweet to taste they are ready. It’s up to you how done you want them.
After about 30 minutes, you can also add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. I like to do this when I want a stronger punch to my onions.
My favorite way to eat them is food truck style with a hot dog, mizeria (polish cucumber salad) and fries. The Les Farms Valens sausage ideal for my dietary restrictions. The sausage uses pork and beef raised without hormones and antibiotics. There are no nitrates or phosphates added and it’s gluten and lactose free. I also like that it’s pre-cooked so I don’t have to handle raw meat. The gluten free hot dog buns were procured by my loving boyfriend in Toronto. They are crispy on the outside and soft inside. Best I’ve ever tasted.