How To: Caramelised Onions

February 19, 2012 § 2 Comments

Caramelising onions is a handy thing to know how to do. It’s one of those super easy things that just requires a bit of patience. So bring a book. Or your phone. I use caramelised onions as a tartine base on pastry with fetta, potato slices, olives and thyme, but it’s amazing in steak sandwiches or alongside a barbecue. You may as well make a big batch, as it keeps well in a sealed jar. Basically it’s a 1:1 ration of large onions to tablespoons of olive oil, so make it as big as you want. The rest of the ingredients can be fooled around with.

3 tablespoons of olive oil
3 large onions
1 bay leaf
The leaves stripped from 2 stalks of thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper, ground
1 teaspoon raw sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Slice onions finely in half moons. Put a large pan (it has to be large, otherwise your onions will stew) over medium heat on the stovetop. Add the oil and allow to warm, add the onion. What you want to find is the middle-ground between stewing your onions (when the water from the onions doesn’t evaporate fast enough) and crisping your onions. This is a slow cook, so keep the heat on medium. The onions should not really brown until about the fifteen minute mark. A sprinkling of salt will stop them crisping up.

After about 5 minutes of cooking and stirring, the onions should start turning translucent, add the bay leaf and thyme and pepper and salt. Cover and leave for 10 minutes on low heat.* Give the onions another stir and cover again, leave for 10 minutes on low. The onions should now be softened and lightly brown. You want them slippery soft. Patience is required, keep the heat low. Cook for a further 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the sugar and the balsamic and cook while stirring for another 3-5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf before serving.

*If you only have very cheap, thin-bottomed pans, this might not be possible, you may have to stay and stir the onions throughout the cooking to prevent them burning on the bottom of the pan.

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