In lieu of anything more important to do last week, I decided to caramelize some onions—a procedure that turns raw onions into divine morsels of goodness. I’ve written about caramelizing onions before, so you know this is a slow job that builds patience, like sitting in the garden and watching rocks grow.
Let the Caramelizing Begin
For onions to reach nirvana, it takes 45 minutes, or more, of slow cooking. It’s best done when you’re in the kitchen cooking something else. Just set the skillet on the back burner and give it an occasional stir.
But it was 9 o’clock in the morning when I took on my recent bout of caramelizing. As I watched and waited, I ate breakfast, cleaned the tops of the ketchup bottle and honey jar, re-filled the salt shaker and checked the expiration dates on my perishables. After that, I turned to my iPad and reviewed the day’s news on Huffington Post.
I cooked two batches, because overloading the skillet makes the process take even longer. Toward the end, I put a bit of balsamic vinegar in the second skillet for even more flavor. Here’s what the onions looked like along the way:
Why would anyone spend so much time extracting every bit of flavor from an onion? You need only eat a 5-Star Burger with caramelized onions bulging from the bun to know the answer. The mahogany-colored pieces are also great atop grilled cheese, pizza, crostini, omelets, baked or mashed potatoes, or in gravy.
It’s a great luxury to have a supply of caramelized onions on hand to enliven such dishes. But it’s disappointing to see the sliced onions cook down to half their original volume and once caramelized disappear so quickly.