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Caramelized onions


Mudpuppie
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Do people not do Hot & Fast?! I only do onions low and slow if im making soffrito.  Maybe it's too much time spend on the line but I heat up a rondeau hot / med high add oil and onions cut radially stir. Let a fond develop deglaze with a bit of water, stir, reduce, repeat. once they've wilted (taken on a tan color) add a few cubes of butter lower the temp to med / med low and take it as dark as you want.

 

This is def much more active than the other method but if you are prepping your station anyway usually you are standing right behind the stove.

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1 hour ago, Tri2Cook said:

Does anybody else feel like it's possible to go too far with this, at least for some uses? I diced some onions, got 'em cooking in a little olive oil and butter and dropped the heat way down. They cooked at that low heat for about an hour (maybe a little more, wasn't precisely watching the clock) with occasional stirring. They were a really nice color and texture but after tasting, I was worried they'd got a little too sweet. They were for a batch of onion dip the kid requested and, as I suspected, the dip turned out almost unpleasantly sweet. The sweet is almost entirely up-front, after that initial "wow, that's sweet" it settles down and isn't bad at all. But you get that hit of sweet with every new bite so it's a persistent almost unpleasantness. 

 

The first time I made French onion soup, I used (per the recipe) Vidalia onions. Yes, the onion (base) was too sweet. After that, I've never used sweet onions. I also don't add sugar.

 

Are you using sweet onions?

 

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1 hour ago, blue_dolphin said:

I could try again and just dial back the onions but I'm not sure it's worth the effort.


Might be worth a shot but I don't think it applies to my situation. The recipe called for 2 large onions for a single batch, I used 2 more towards medium-sized onions for a double batch because the kid doesn't like an overload of onion pieces in her dip.

 

12 minutes ago, MokaPot said:

Are you using sweet onions?


Nope, they were some particularly pungent regular ol' yellow onions. Strong enough to give my eyes a little trouble which very rarely happens to me anymore, especially with my contact lenses in. There was no sugar used at all. Not for the cooking of the onions and not anywhere else in the recipe.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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On 12/28/2020 at 2:34 PM, blue_dolphin said:

In This Will Make It Taste Good, Vivian Howard's recipe for caramelized onions specifies cutting the onions in half through their stem ends, then slicing the onions thinly, "from root to stem rather than cutting the onion across its belly," and says, "This is actually important because slicing it the other way makes the path to silky onions a longer one."  Seems to me that if they are cut thinly, it shouldn't make a ton of difference in cook time. With all the stirring, the segments separate pretty well either way.

In a couple of recipes, Deborah Madison says to cut them cross-wise, into rings or to first quarter them and then slice cross-wise.

A Serious Eats article that considers a lot of variables doesn't say boo about the slicing orientation, though the accompanying photo shows them cut root to stem.

 

I agree with Vivian Howard that the direction matters, but I'm not sure I follow her reasoning. To my mind it has more of an effect on texture than time. I believe it's because of the shape and orientation of the cells in the onion; you rupture fewer of them going vertically. Kenji talks about this in exhausting detail in this article on slicing onions for burgers, and does note in this article on onion cutting that pole-to-pole onions should be sweeter because you're producing fewer pungent compounds in the slicing.

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2 hours ago, Tri2Cook said:

Does anybody else feel like it's possible to go too far with this, at least for some uses? I diced some onions, got 'em cooking in a little olive oil and butter and dropped the heat way down. They cooked at that low heat for about an hour (maybe a little more, wasn't precisely watching the clock) with occasional stirring. They were a really nice color and texture but after tasting, I was worried they'd got a little too sweet. They were for a batch of onion dip the kid requested and, as I suspected, the dip turned out almost unpleasantly sweet. The sweet is almost entirely up-front, after that initial "wow, that's sweet" it settles down and isn't bad at all. But you get that hit of sweet with every new bite so it's a persistent almost unpleasantness. 

 

I do agree — and I think it gets amplified if you're using them in a recipe that's high in fat (like an onion dip). Extra acid often helps — particularly lemon — and salt levels seem really critical.

 

I do wonder if maybe the butter is contributing -- if it's not clarified, then the caramelized milk solids are probably also adding some sweetness in a way that an all olive oil onion wouldn't.


(I also find I don't like the traditional mix of sour cream and mayo in onion dip — I strongly prefer an all sour cream dip, or even a mix of sour cream and Greek yogurt.)

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3 minutes ago, dtremit said:

 

(I also find I don't like the traditional mix of sour cream and mayo in onion dip — I strongly prefer an all sour cream dip, or even a mix of sour cream and Greek yogurt.)

As a native Californian mayo in onion dip?!? What we know as comfort is Liptons onion soup packet sour cream.

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46 minutes ago, dtremit said:

I also find I don't like the traditional mix of sour cream and mayo in onion dip — I strongly prefer an all sour cream dip, or even a mix of sour cream and Greek yogurt.


I used ~2 tablespoons of butter and ~4 of olive oil to cook the onions. They were seasoned with salt, pepper and a little cayenne. The onions were mixed into 1 cup mayo, 8 oz cream cheese and 2 cups sour cream. If I ever make it again, I'll try throwing a little vinegar into the cooked onions as was suggested above but it won't be anytime soon.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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4 hours ago, AAQuesada said:

Do people not do Hot & Fast?! I only do onions low and slow if im making soffrito.  Maybe it's too much time spend on the line but I heat up a rondeau hot / med high add oil and onions cut radially stir. Let a fond develop deglaze with a bit of water, stir, reduce, repeat. once they've wilted (taken on a tan color) add a few cubes of butter lower the temp to med / med low and take it as dark as you want.

 

This is def much more active than the other method but if you are prepping your station anyway usually you are standing right behind the stove.

Pretty much what I do. I should deglaze more.

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