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How to Caramelize Onions

February 28th, 2012 Cooking

The difference between raw and caramelized onions can be surprising when you think about it. While the former is pungent, crunchy and tear-inducing, the latter is smooth, almost buttery and the perfect companion for a number of dishes. Making them is easy, and once you do you'll have a wonderful tool to add to your culinary repertoire.

According to the Reluctant Gourmet, all you need to caramelize onions is an onion, a knife, some sort of cooking fat and a heat source. Note that the way you slice the onion can actually affect the final product, so you want to be careful with your first cuts. If you want softer, more "liquid" onions, cut longitudinally, from root to stem. If you want caramelized onions with more substance, cut horizontally.

Heat a pan and throw in your fat (whether butter or olive oil). Once heated, add your onions and a pinch of salt, which will help draw out the water. Allow to cook over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes.

What can you do with caramelized onions? RealSimple has plenty of ideas! Put them on a baked potato with a dollop of sour cream, serve on a pizza along with some crumble goat cheese or throw them on a steak or burger. They work wonderfully in dishes like French onion soup and can even be used to add a bit more flavor to tart crusts.

You can refrigerate caramelized onions for about three or four days, so you can feel free to make a large batch and use it throughout the week if you'd like - this can save you loads of time in the long run.