No mystery to caramelizing onions. You’ll need a big pile, red or white, the patience to cook them gently for 20 – 30 minutes, and then the possibilities for delicious consumption are almost endless. Their natural sugars are emphasized after such cooking; they turn a golden brown and become a gentle, savory cousin to the sharply flavored raw version we’re familiar with. If onions can be comfort food, this just might be it.
Four or five medium sized onions will yield about 3 cups when caramelized. After just fifteen or twenty minutes you may decide the onions are perfect for your taste – that’s fine too. Enjoy.
4 – 5 medium Farmer’s Market onions, about six cups when sliced
4 tablespoons local butter, ghee or olive oil
1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste
Balsamic vinegar or orange juice optional
*Peel and slice onions. Preheat a large, heavy sauté’ or roasting pan on medium heat, and add butter or oil. Add the onions to melted butter or olive oil, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and stir. After several minutes adjust heat to medium/low so that onions cook gently and without browning too quickly.
Continue to cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Gradually the onions will begin to soften and become golden brown. You may add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar or orange juice at this point if you wish, and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Cook gently for a few more minutes. Remove from heat.
Now what? Place a serving of grilled salmon or steak atop a pile of caramelized onions, or serve with Italian sausage (a local version) and oven roasted tomatoes; simmer with chicken, beef or vegetable broth, a handful of chopped herbs and a splash of wine (optional) for a delicious soup; use as a salad topping mid-winter (maybe with a little bacon) to brighten the season’s coarser salad greens; try lentils with caramelized onions and plain yogurt, a universal and delicious combination.
*Since the root end has the strongest concentration of the enzyme alliinases, cut it last and you may save yourself a few tears.Alliu