Caring to Caramelize
Food blogging is all about sharing great ingredients, recipes, experiences and anything else that touches the life of a foodie crazy enough to document it all. This includes exploiting the talents of food-loving friends. Last weekend we packed the kids up and headed into the city to visit our good friends, Aleka and Derek, in their newly purchased Toronto house. I first introduced you to this dynamic duo back in the summer when I was preparing 300 cupcakes for their outdoor wedding. Saturday night they were hosting an Ugly Sweater House Warming Bash and, as they always do, had gone above and beyond to create an impressive spread of food and drink for all of their guests. As I was scoffing down Derek’s handcrafted sandwiches and incredible lasagna, I had a foodie epiphany. I think I have discovered to the secret to Derek’s incredible Chef magic. Grab a pen, this could change your life:
- Caramelized Onions
A lengthy career in professional kitchens, Derek has learned the craft of drawing the best out of every ingredient and he is always willing to invest the effort to do just that. He doesn’t just toss some diced onions into his lasagna; he’ll julienne a basket of yellow onions, caramelize it all and delicately place them on their own layer of noodles, sandwiched between butter sauteed spinach with ricotta cheese and a tomato-based pork and beef blend. It doesn’t stop there. Where many of us would simply pile lettuce, tomato and sliced meat between bread, Derek serves his guests grilled peppers and eggplant with a garlic aioli and a hand-carved ham with whole grain Dijon mustard on fresh cheese buns. He is a man with a plan and his reward for all of his efforts is my committed adoration and salivation for everything and anything he touches.
Many can feed you well but a truly talented Chef leaves you satisfied and inspired. Since enjoying Derek’s lasagna, I’ve spent the past week obsessing about caramelized onions.
How To Caramelize Onions
It’s not as simple as throwing a handful of chopped onions in the pan and heating. There is much more time and effort involved than that, to properly call out those sweet, delicious flavours of caramelized onions. *Sigh* My space bar is swimming in drool.
What you need:
- 1 – 2 Tbsp olive oil (not the extra virgin stuff, actual olive oil. Can sub for canola oil)
- Sweet yellow or white onions
- A splash white wine or white wine vinegar
- A sprinkle of brown sugar
- 30 to 40 minutes to spare
Note: Caramelizing significantly reduces the volume of an onion. For most purposes, one onion per person serves as a good rule of thumb.
Clean your onion of the dry skin and the root and stem tips, cut the onion in half, top to bottom. Then slice the onion, flat side down, to make thin strips. Make sure to separate the layers.
Using a heavy non-stick or well-seasoned iron skillet, coat the bottom with oil. Heat the skillet on high until the oil is very hot but not smoking. Add the brown sugar and all of your onion slices and reduce the heat to medium-low.
Stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, coating all onions with the oil. Continue to stir and toss every 4 to 6 minutes. Watch for any pieces starting to burn – move those pieces to the side of the pan, away from direct/centre heat.
After 25 to 30 minutes, the onion will be well on the way to browning. This is the sugar in the onion caramelizing. Continue to toss the onion with the spatula until all of the onion slices have reached a dark, rich brown color.
Pour the onions into a bowl. Turn off the heat and add a splash white wine or white wine vinegar to the pan to deglaze it and gently scrape up the delicious dark brown glaze that has cooked to the pan, pour this on the caramelized onions, add salt to your desire and toss.
You could add a dash of soya sauce and/or a spoon of butter if you really want to elevate the sweet caramelized flavours.Add to favorites