Caramelized Onions add a depth of flavor wherever they’re used, and they’re very simple to make and have at hand for a flavor emergency.
Disclosure: Special thanks to Calphalon for sponsoring this post and for choosing me as a Calphalon Cook brand Ambassador. All opinions, as always, are my own.
Fried onions are a thing I grew up with, thanks to my Indo-Burmese grandmother who kept our pantry stocked with a jar at all times. It might be weird to imagine a kid having a taste for something that is part sweet, part bitter, but I would find myself sneaking spoonfuls out of the jar every chance I could – and eating it straight up, much like a child would with, say, jam.
Caramelized onions are much like the fried onions I grew up with in terms of taste, but the texture is more soft, melt-in-your-mouth and can I say, creamier? And the number of things you can use it on, in and with is almost endless. From burgers and sandwiches, to an excellent flavor base for pasta sauces, and as toppings or fillings, it doesn’t hurt to have some caramelized onions in the fridge or freezer at all times.
Which is why, I usually make these in bulk, divide between small jars and keep them frozen, with one jar in the fridge to use as needed.
Speaking of bulk, that’s a LOT of onions to chop – you see, they reduce to almost 1/3rd their weight by the time they’re done caramelising. And it helps to have a good knife that you can trust to get the job done.
My weapon of choice here is the Santoku knife from my Calphalon Contemporary™ SharpIN™ Nonstick 13-Piece Cutlery Set (available at Calphalon.com). It has a longitudinal ridge and a nonstick coating for superior food release, which means I don’t have to manually slide slices off the knife while moving from onion to onion.
The knife block also has a SharpIN™ feature, that keeps my knives sharpened (twice: once while removing and then again while returning it back into the block) and ready to go!
Let’s get Caramelising!
Step 1: Peel the onions, and cut in half.
Step 2: Slice 1/8″ slices by sliding the tip of the knife under the crown and then slicing through to the end.
Step 3: Using the tip of the knife, cut a ‘V’ shaped incision around the crown, removing it. Slice off the bottom tail end also.
This should leave you with evenly thick slices. Repeat with the remaining onions.
Step 4: Heat some oil in a wide fry pan/skillet.
Note: For the recipe quantities mentioned below, I used the 10″ fry pan from my Calphalon Premier™ Hard-Anodized Nonstick 11-Piece Cookware Set (buy here). Not only does this let me get away with lesser oil than normally needed for caramelisation, it also makes cleanup a frickin’ breeze! The coating also ensures even heating with no hot spots, so there’s no risk of burning.
Step 5: Season with a little salt. This also helps draw out the moisture from the onions.
Step 6: Over medium-low heat, saute the onions until they turn golden brown.
Step 7: Reduce heat to the lowest setting, and continue cooking, stirring every 5 minutes.
Step 8: After about 20 minutes, the onions will start loosing water and trying to turn crisp. At this point, stir in a tablespoon of water to rehydrate.
Keep adding water and stirring every 5 minutes until the desired level of caramelization is reached.
Step 9: When the onions are reduced to 1/3rd their original quantity, and deep dark brown, soft (not crisp), and thoroughly caramelized, remove from heat.
Let cool completely before transferring to a clean, dry container for refrigeration/freezing.
Use in recipes that call for caramelized onions, scooping what you need from the jar in the fridge. It’s that easy!
Here are some of my favorite ways to use these:
- To top pilaf/pulao along with cilantro, cashews and raisins. Adds a really nice depth of flavor.
- In burgers, sandwiches and wraps. Yumm!
- In a bruchetta, over toasted baguette, tomatoes, olive oil, S+P, fresh herbs and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
- While making alfredo sauce, as a starting point of flavor. Good stuff!
- 3 c yellow onion, sliced 1/8" thick
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 2-3 tbsp water or vegetable stock
- Salt, to taste (optional)
- Heat oil in a 10" non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and season with salt.
- Saute on medium heat until golden brown, stirring every 5 minutes.
- Reduce heat to the lowest setting ( I reduce my gas burner to just a flicker, before the flame turns off), and continue cooking for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.
- By this time, the onions might start to dry up, so rehydrate by stirring in a tablespoon of water. Continue cooking and stirring and rehydrating, until the desired level of caramelisation is reached. For me, it took a total of 40 minutes.
- Remove from heat, cool completely and store in a clean, dry container. Refrigerate for upto 2 weeks, and freeze for upto 6 months.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 99Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 318mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 2gSugar: 8gProtein: 2g
Disclaimer: This nutritional data is calculated using third party tools and is only intended as a reference.