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Mudpuppie

Caramelized onions

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A year or two ago, I remember someone posted in the Indian forum about an experiment he'd done measuring the temperature of the mixture as he brown-fried onions. It comes up to 100C, then stays there for a long time (10-15 minutes ?) as the water boils off, before slowly climbing towards a frying temperature.

Here you go :-)

http://cumbrianfoodlab.blogspot.com/

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Yes, that's it. His handle here is waaza or wazza, IIRC. I remember thinking, what a great thing to do and publish for everyone, but not agreeing with

The results showed me that for a given temperature of oil, the rate of water loss was constant

- which I think should read "for a given rate of heat input, the rate of water loss was constant".

87% water does seem about right for onions. No doubt it varies with type and with climate, but I'd guess roughly 80-90%, regardless.


QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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Odd that vinegar is suggested, yet soda is suggested in order to raise the alkalinity, which vinegar will lower. It's like two brothers fighting it out!

Starkman

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I think the balsamic vinegar is more for the colouring and a little sweetness than for any affect on alkalinity - I've used it in some recipes and it does make them look brown quite quickly, but it's not quite the same as the browning from a long cooking.


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Cookbooker Challenge: July/Aug 2010 - collaboratively baking & reviewing Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home.

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I have a whole bunch of caramelized onions, that I've been trying to use up on sandwiches burgers etc. Does anyone have any good recommendations for other ways in which to use them up?

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I have a whole bunch of caramelized onions, that I've been trying to use up on sandwiches burgers etc. Does anyone have any good recommendations for other ways in which to use them up?

Caramelized onions pair beautifully with roasted red peppers -- in soup, pasta sauce, macaroni and cheese, and mashed potatoes, or on top of pizza. The best cheese I've found for the combination is aged gouda, but a really old cheddar can work too. On pizza, aged gouda and fontina are a good match.

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I don't cook sweet onions--they fall apart. Use yellow onions, add salt and sugar--the sugar will caramalize without adding much sweetness--the only way to go!


Cooking is chemistry, baking is alchemy.

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I think the problem is just too little heat for the quantity of onions. All these other factors make small differences, but no matter what they're not going to brown if you stew them ... at least not before they've cooked off all their moisture and turned to mush.

You just don't want to go TOO hot ... if you do they'll blacken on the outside before browning all the way through.


Notes from the underbelly

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I have a whole bunch of caramelized onions... recommendations for other ways in which to use them up?

Use them as a base for a stew or soup. Or give 'em to me and I will :biggrin:


QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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You can't make decent caramelized onions without using the strongest, most tear-producing yellow onions. And not the big Spanish ones -- the hard, medium ones no larger than a baseball.

**Slow Caramelized Onions

3 pounds of the strongest yellow onions, thinly sliced

4 tablespoons unsalted butter or, preferably, schmaltz

a bit of balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a crockpot on low for 12 hours.

**Quick Caramelized Onions

On the stove top, cut the time from 20 to 10 minutes by starting the onions in a dry pan.

**Onion Confit (Marmalade) is 1000 times better. Make a large batch and freeze in flattened ZipLoc Freezer bags (not regular) for fast thawing.

6 strong yellow onions, or as many as will fit in your pot, quartered and sliced thick

1 stick butter (1/2 cup)

1/2 cup EVOO

3 sprigs thyme or 1 teaspoon dried

3–4 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon each ground black and white pepper

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup beef or vegetable demi-glace, or just toss in some boullion cubes

Saute all ingredients except demi-glace in a heavy, ovenproof pot. Reduce to simmer. After 20 minutes, stir in the demiglace and simmer 10 minutes. Then put uncovered in a 200 degree oven for 6 hours. If it gets dry, add some water or the onion trimming broth described below, and cover for the remaining period.

I've also had sensational results by cooking it overnight at 200 to 225 in a covered Le Creuset pot.

This comes out very sweet. For your second batch, add some sherry vinegar as a balance.

Variations: Substitute pork belly fat or coconut oil for the fats. Substitute ruby port or sherry for stock. Substitute orange juice and a strip of peel for stock. Add a preserved lemon. A hint of nutmeg does it good. Simmer all the onion trimmings, including the root core and dried peel layers, in water to cover until amber. Reduce and add to the confit about half-way through the cooking. Add few chopped anchovies toward the end.

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I have a whole bunch of caramelized onions, that I've been trying to use up on sandwiches burgers etc. Does anyone have any good recommendations for other ways in which to use them up?

Slice a baguette into rounds, lightly toast, top with a layer of onions, some dollops of goat cheese & broil for an easy appetizer for parties. I've cooked a lot for people and these were the fastest things to ever get devoured of anything I've made.


PS: I am a guy.

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For those who are interested, the eGullet Onion Confit thread: Click here


 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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what k43 said, those approaches should give you the best results you can hope for. And never cook with sweet onions, they're for eating raw in salads or on burgers etc.

I'm pretty sure you can't even find sweet onions in France, or at least could not in the past. And as mentioned, you can make a whole big fat pot of the stuff and freeze it in portions. Unless you eat it all right away of course :laugh:


"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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I use a couple of pinches of baking soda and it really speeds up the browning. Before, I had no patience to caramelize onions, now it's no problem. (The bicarbonate of soda also helps to brown cookies and other things.)

Just don't try this with red onions! You will end up with blue-black onions that look quite disgusting. They taste just fine though! I should have known this but it was early, early in the morning. :shock:


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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I bought a bag of "regular" yellow onions at the grocery yesterday, and they are going in the crock-pot as soon as I get to the point where I can do anything in my kitchen, where I am at present trying to unclog a sink. Will report back in on both projects.


Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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I use a couple of pinches of baking soda and it really speeds up the browning. Before, I had no patience to caramelize onions, now it's no problem. (The bicarbonate of soda also helps to brown cookies and other things.)

Just don't try this with red onions! You will end up with blue-black onions that look quite disgusting. They taste just fine though! I should have known this but it was early, early in the morning. :shock:

On the advice of a friend, I tried using the longish "Italian torpedo" red onions and used coconut oil in which to cook them.

Like these: http://www.humeseeds.com/onion_ir.htm

They retained their color nicely - they were just a bit darker, rather purplish but not at all an unpleasant color. I also included some preserved lemon but don't know if that had any effect on the color.

The flavor was excellent.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Many thanks to the posters who (a) told me to use regular yellow onions, and (b) advised me to use the crock-pot. Now, THESE are some caramelized onions!

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Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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 Rather than drag any other topic off-topic I thought I would revive this one. 

 

Elsewhere we have been discussing methods of caramelizing onions. I expressed my opinion that the onions I attempted to caramelize in the slow cooker years ago did not measure up to my expectations.

 

Today I decided to test out the method for caramelized onions in a pressure cooker following the directions from Serious Eats.  Of course I used my Instant Pot. 

 

The hardest part of this recipe is peeling and slicing 3 pounds of onions which were each smaller than a racquetball!   Should I decide to attempt this again I will look for much larger onions.  :)

 

Even after almost 30 minutes of cooking off the excess liquid using the sauté function on the Instant Pot these onions were a far cry from what I expect when I do the same thing on top of the stove.  They were mushy, lacked the colour I expect and tasted overly sweet. 

 

I will not let them go to waste but next time I need caramelized onions in quantity I will revert to the old-fashioned way of doing them on the stove top. 

 

 I believe this is very much a matter of personal taste and I have no wish to find fault with those who are happy with the results they get using other methods. 

 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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1 hour ago, Anna N said:

 Rather than drag any other topic off-topic I thought I would revive this one. 

 

Elsewhere we have been discussing methods of caramelizing onions. I expressed my opinion that the onions I attempted to caramelize in the slow cooker years ago did not measure up to my expectations.

 

Today I decided to test out the method for caramelized onions in a pressure cooker following the directions from Serious Eats.  Of course I used my Instant Pot. 

 

The hardest part of this recipe is peeling and slicing 3 pounds of onions which were each smaller than a racquetball!   Should I decide to attempt this again I will look for much larger onions.  :)

 

Even after almost 30 minutes of cooking off the excess liquid using the sauté function on the Instant Pot these onions were a far cry from what I expect when I do the same thing on top of the stove.  They were mushy, lacked the colour I expect and tasted overly sweet. 

 

I will not let them go to waste but next time I need caramelized onions in quantity I will revert to the old-fashioned way of doing them on the stove top. 

 

 I believe this is very much a matter of personal taste and I have no wish to find fault with those who are happy with the results they get using other methods. 

 

 

I also tried that recipe for caramelized onions. I think I posted about it over in the Instant Pot topic but never added it here.   I ended up with a large amount of liquid after the pressure cooking step and it took such a long period of stirring on the Sauté function (almost 40 minutes) that the onions had pretty much turned into a paste.  

I was disappointed as I'd been expecting onions, not onion purée and the claim of "caramelized onions in 30 minutes" turned out to be bogus in my hands.  However, I froze it in ice cube trays and it was handy to thaw out a cube or two and get that great caramelized flavor in an instant.  Smeared on a flatbread, sprinkled with grated cheese and broiled - yum!  But it was an onion purée, not caramelized onions.

 

I went back to my usual oven method for making actual caramelized onions.

 


Edited by blue_dolphin to add link to previous post (log)
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20 minutes ago, blue_dolphin said:

I went back to my usual oven method for making actual caramelized onions.

That will be my next “experiment” but for now I’m plumb out of both onions and stamina. :D

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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1 hour ago, blue_dolphin said:

I went back to my usual oven method for making actual caramelized onions.

Can you provide your oven method/recipe? I usually do onions on the stove top. The oven method sounds like it'd be more hands-off.


 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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That's really too bad. I had that recipe saved to try later. I love French onion soup but I don't care for onion mush soup.

 

I still really love the onions from that Onion Confit topic some years back. I did it in a slow cooker overnight (DH wasn't thrilled with the lovely onion smells lingering in our apt for days....). I recall it being a bit too soft & sweet for onion soup, but it was great for smearing all over bread. I think I'll have a go again in the Instant Pot's slow cooker setting - hoping the smells might be better-contained in the IP.

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1 hour ago, Toliver said:

Can you provide your oven method/recipe? I usually do onions on the stove top. The oven method sounds like it'd be more hands-off.

 

I peel the onions and slice them about 1/4 inch thick.  Separate the rings; then toss them with olive oil (~ 1.5 - 2T oil per lb of onions), salt & pepper and transfer to an oiled oven-safe dish.  Cover with the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes @ 375°F. Remove the foil, give the onions a stir, cover, and return the dish to the oven for 15 minutes.  Stir again and return to the oven, uncovered, stirring every 10-15 min until the onions are done to your taste. 

 

This is a modification of a Deborah Madison recipe for Roasted Onions with Sage from her cookbook, The Savory Way.  That recipe adds fresh sage leaves and balsamic vinegar to the mix and I tend to cut those onions thicker ~ 1/2" thick.  I often put 2 pans of onions into the oven at the same time - one with the seasonings and the other plain. 

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H'mm. I had wondered about the texture issue for onions in the pressure cooker, having noticed how diced onions almost disappear when cooked at pressure. Like @Anna N, I don't think I'd care for that texture. I've retired my crock pot since I got the IP, so I may have to try the oven method. I love the convenience of having frozen bags of caramelized onions close at hand.

 

Going to caramelize some today. I'm thinking beef, barley and mushroom soup today.

 

 

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Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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