Caramelized Onions and Why You Should Make a Big Batch

As you all know I am a big fan of make ahead meals – the same goes for make ahead ingredients.  These are somewhat time-consuming elements that can add another dimension to your recipes.  Caramelized onions are the perfect example – how much better is a burger with caramelized onions than say some raw sliced onion??  But if you had to take the time to caramelize the onions, your burger is no longer an easy meal so screw it and just have the raw onion right?!  Well you can freeze them in small portions and use them over the next 6 months in a myriad of ways.  Friday I will be posting a Thanksgiving game plan so you can plan out lots of make ahead items such as an appetizer utilizing these very onions.  However, there are many other ways to use them, the aforementioned burger, topping for a pizza, taking a sandwich to the next level or even as a topping for a pasta or risotto.  Caramelizing onions takes some patience but once you get the hang of it its pretty easy.  What you really don’t want to do is crowd the onions or they are just going to sort of slump together and never get yummy and caramelized.  I used a large dutch oven and my largest skillet for this mega batch but you could easily do it in one if you cut the recipe in half (but don’t do that, seriously).

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The thyme bundles are mostly about laziness, it’s way easier to toss in the bundles than to strip off all those little leaves.  Also it imparts a more subtle thyme taste which is important when making a big batch like this.  Who knows that these onions might end up on and you might not want little thyme leaves in them.  Buy a spool of twine and you will find plenty of uses for it.  Added bonus, this will make your home smell delicious.  So buck up and slice those onions (keep tissues handy) this weekend and you will have a great flavor booster waiting in your freezer for when you need it.

Caramelized Onions (printable version at the end of the post)
Special Equipment:  2 large skillets or dutch ovens (about 12 inches or so), kitchen twine

  • 5 large sweet onions, sliced (not too thinly, about a 1/4 to a 1/2 inch)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 10 or so sprigs of thyme

Set two large skillets or dutch ovens over medium low heat.  Add half of the butter and half of the oil to each pan and let the butter melt.  Add half of the onions to each pan and season with salt and pepper.  Toss the onions in the oil and butter mixture to coat and then leave them alone.  Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice.  While they are cooking divide up your thyme and tie each bundle of 5 sprigs with some kitchen twine.  Toss in 1/4 cup of the white wine in each pan and use it to deglaze.  Also add a thyme bundle to each pan.

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Continue to cook for another 30 minutes, stirring only occasionally.  Keep an eye on the onions and adjust the temperature accordingly – getting too brown turn down, not getting dark enough crank it up.  You never want to be over a medium heat though otherwise the onions will get too dark too fast and you won’t get the right flavor.  Add the remainder of the wine to the pans (1/4 cup each) and deglaze again.

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Cook for 15 minutes more, making sure all the wine has cooked off again.  Now you should have approximately 6 cups of carmelized onions.  Serve right away or scoop them into piles onto a wax paper lined baking sheet after they have cooled.

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Freeze for several hours until solid and then store in a freezer bag for several months.  To defrost you can leave them in the fridge over night or on the counter for an hour or so.  They reheat really well so toss them in a hot pan or even nuke them before you serve.

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Caramelized Onions

  • Servings: 6 cups
  • Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Print

Special Equipment:  2 large skillets or dutch ovens (about 12 inches or so), kitchen twine

  • 5 large sweet onions, sliced (not too thinly, about a 1/4 to a 1/2 inch)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 10 or so sprigs of thyme

Set two large skillets or dutch ovens over medium low heat.  Add half of the butter and half of the oil to each pan and let the butter melt.  Add half of the onions to each pan and season with salt and pepper.  Toss the onions in the oil and butter mixture to coat and then leave them alone.  Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice.  While they are cooking divide up your thyme and tie each bundle of 5 sprigs with some kitchen twine.  Toss in 1/4 cup of the white wine in each pan and use it to deglaze.  Also add a thyme bundle to each pan.

Continue to cook for another 30 minutes, stirring only occasionally.  Keep an eye on the onions and adjust the temperature accordingly – getting too brown turn down, not getting dark enough crank it up.  You never want to be over a medium heat though otherwise the onions will get too dark too fast and you won’t get the right flavor. Add the remainder of the wine to the pans (1/4 cup each) and deglaze again.  Cook for 15 minutes more, making sure all the wine has cooked off again.  Now you should have approximately 6 cups of carmelized onions.  Serve right away or scoop them into piles onto a wax paper lined baking sheet after they have cooled.  Freeze for several hours until solid and then store in a freezer bag for several months.  To defrost you can leave them in the fridge over night or on the counter for an hour or so.  They reheat really well so toss them in a hot pan or even nuke them before you serve.

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Crostini | A Capitol Contessa

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