Today we are creating an unbelievable, intensely rich, sweet flavored, caramel-colored, spreadable delicacy. It’s like gold. We’re caramelizing onions! We’re cooking onions very slowly on the stove. . . drawing all of their natural sugars to their surface.
Although you can use olive oil, I love using clarified, unsalted butter to caramelize my onions. Below I will teach you a simple, quick and easy way to do it.
There are a variety of ways to caramelize onions, and you can use many different types of onions.
I love this particular method of caramelizing onions for spreading on grilled cheese sandwiches, using in bite-sized hors d’oeuvres, adding to soups and sauces, topping a pizza or tart, and perhaps — on occasion — eating with a spoon!
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 large brown onions
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- In a heavy-bottomed stew pan, melt the butter over low heat.
- Using a metal spoon, remove the milk solids from the surface -- they will appear as a creamy colored foam. This is essentially a quick way to clarify the butter. (The milk solids are the part of the butter that has a low burning point, so removing them helps prevent burning the contents of the pot.)
- Turn the heat to medium-high and add all of the onions. The caramelization process will take about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. During the first 15 minutes, stir the onions every few minutes (I like to use metal tongs at this early point).
- Once the onions are soft, reduce the heat to medium-low and stir periodically. Every so often the bottom and sides of the pan will begin to brown. This is what you want! Use a wooden deglazing spatula to work that back into the onions. When the onions are done, they will be very soft, golden brown, and very sweet.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Here's how to season to taste.)