You know how some recipes just fill your house with wonderful smells while they’re cooking? A slow cooked pot roast, for instance. Or a pot of southern style butter beans simmering away on the stove? Well, this is definitely one of those recipes.
Onions, as pungent as they are raw, turn to the most wonderful, caramel-y, delicious substance when cooked over low heat for a long time. And they make an outstanding addition to all kinds of soups, stews, and dips. They even stand on their own for an appetizer as I used them here. A toasted baguette, spread with a little softened cream cheese, and topped with this Melange of Onions…just about perfect!
This is really more of a technique than an outright recipe and I can’t really call it “caramelized onions” because of the stock that’s included. I suppose, technically, it’s more like braised onions – cooked low and slow in a bit of liquid. But the result is really outstanding. I always like a mixture of different kinds of onions for this. I think it gives a more interesting flavor. You could, however, use just one or two.
Don’t be put off by the cooking time, either. Once you get these going, they really look after themselves as long as you leave the temperature down pretty low. Just give them a stir in passing and they’ll turn out great.
Use a mixture of at least 3 or 4 different varieties of onion yielding 8 to 10 cups peeled and sliced. This time, I used leeks, garlic, red onions, white and yellow onions, shallots, cipollini, and chives. Anything that falls within the onion (allium) category will work. I always include leeks because I like the earthy flavor they give to the finished onions but that’s entirely up to you. Whatever you have on hand or they have in your store’s produce department is fine!
You’ll need to peel all the onions (of course, scallions and chives don’t need peeling), cut off the root ends, and slice them. A tip about peeling onions – use a very sharp knife. Remember, “the sharper the blade, the less you cry.” Using a dull blade crushes the cell walls as it passes through the onion which releases much more of the substance that produces tears. So sharpen your knife before you start!
Place a large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium-low heat and add the butter and oil. When the butter has melted, add the onions, stock, salt, pepper, and thyme.
Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for up to 2 hours (more if they need it!) or until the onions have greatly reduced in volume and a deep golden brown color is achieved. Be sure to bring up any residue on the bottom of the pan each time you stir.
Here’s what your onions will look like after about 10 minutes of cooking time.
And here they are after about 30-40 minutes.
You can add an additional tablespoon of water or broth at the end of cooking to deglaze the bottom of the pan, if needed. Also, remember to remove the thyme stems. What you wind up with is about 1 1/2 cups of yummy, golden brown, delicious onions that you can use right away, store in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze and use within 3 months.
I used this batch right away to make a simple appetizer. I toasted a sliced baguette, topped with some softened cream cheese and a spoonful of my melange of onions. They also make a great topping for burgers or steak sandwiches, and are a perfect base for onion soup or onion dip.
- 1 tblsp. butter
- 1 tblsp. oil
- 8-10 cups peeled, sliced, or diced mixed onions
- 1/2 cup stock, wine, or water
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 5-6 thyme sprigs
- Use a mixture of at least 3 or 4 different varieties of onion. Suggestions include leeks, green onions, red or purple onions, white and yellow onions, cipollini, garlic, chives, and shallots. Prepare the onions and set aside.
- Place a large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium-low heat and add the butter and oil. When the butter has melted, add the onions, stock, salt, pepper, and thyme.
- Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for up to 2 hours or until the onions have greatly reduced in volume and a deep golden brown color is achieved. Be sure to bring up any residue on the bottom of the pan each time you stir. An additional tablespoon of water or broth can be added at the end of cooking to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Remove the thyme stems.
- Store covered in the refrigerator and use within 3 days. Or freeze and use within 3 months.
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More onion recipes you might enjoy from around the internet:
- Braised Onions from Simply Recipes
- Perfect Caramelized Onions from No Recipes
- Easy Pickled Onions from Shared Appetite
- Marinated Grilled Onions from Dine and Dish
- Sweet Vidalia Onion Salad Dressing from One Perfect Bite
What I was up to…