Candy-sweet caramelized onions are cooked slow until you bring out the deep, rich, sweet flavor. Be patient and don’t rush it. Caramelizing onions takes time and will often take up to an hour to do properly. It’s important to work slowly. It will pay off.
Onions are naturally sweet and as caramel comes from the simple cooking of sugar, when you slowly cook onions over an extended period of time, the natural sugars in the onions caramelize, making the result intensely and wonderfully flavorful. Cooking the onions on a higher heat would cook off the moisture too quickly and the onions would burn before any true flavor could develop.
And, fond is where the flavor lies. As the onions cook and release steam, some of their sugars get transferred to the bottom of the pan. It looks like the pot is burning, but don’t worry, it’s not! Scrape the bottom of the pan as you stir the onions.
What pan to use? Stainless steel or cast iron skillets are ideal for caramelizing onions and what makes these onions so special is the fond that builds up on the bottom of the pan — scraping this up and stirring it into the onions gives them an even richer flavor — and this fond won’t form in a nonstick skillet.
You can store these candy-sweet caramelized onions in the fridge for around a week, but they also freeze beautifully for future use.
Candy-sweet caramelized onions
- 4 large yellow onions
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ¾ dl red wine
- 1 tsp chicken stock concentrated
- 1 tbsp sugar
- ½ tsp white pepper
- ½ tsp black pepper
- Start with the onions and trim the tip and root. Halve each onion from root to stem, then remove the skins. Thinly slice each half from root to stem to your desired level of thickness.
- Use a wide, thick-bottomed sauté pan for maximum pan contact with the onions. Coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil and butter. Heat the pan on medium high heat until the oil is shimmering.
- Add the onion slices and stir to coat the onions with the oil. Spread the onions out evenly over the pan and let cook, stirring occasionally.
- Cook the onions, checking on them every 5 minutes. Stir the onions and scrape up any fond that forms on the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon. Exact cooking times will vary with the number of onions you're cooking, their liquid and sugar content, and their age.
- After 15 minutes: Onions will start to soften and turn translucent in spots. They will release a lot of liquid into the pan.
- Around 30 Minutes: Onions will be very soft and starting to break down. Some onions will start to show spots of caramelization and you may see some fond starting to build up in the pan. They will also start to smell caramelized. Adjust the heat if the onions seem to be cooking too quickly or you notice any burnt spots.
- Around 45 Minutes: Onions are golden and starting to smell very caramelized.
- Mix red wine, sugar, spices, and stock in a small bowl and pour it into the sauté pan and mix it with the onions. Let it simmer until you like the consistence.
- Around 60 Minutes: Now they are ready and you are looking into a pan of perfect caramelized onions to use on a minute steak, hamburger, soup or in a sandwich, for instance. Cuisine: food for the soul