How to Caramelize Onions: Step by Step Guide
There are dishes that call for caramelized onions. What some people do not know is that this pungent food item contains sugar that can give it an amazing sweetness. This makes a great addition to burgers and other similar sandwiches. If you want to learn how to caramelize onions for burgers and other foods, then you’re in the right place. Here is your step-by-step guide to caramelizing onions.
Pick the Right Onion to Caramelize
The secret to successful caramelized onions is picking the right ingredients to start with. It is obvious that the star of the recipe is the onion. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of varieties of this vegetable that have differing flavor characteristics. Some have a stronger, more pungent onion flavor than others.
For quick caramelized onions, you will want to pick the sweet varieties. They often contain more sugars than other types. Examples of onions that you may want to caramelize include Vidalias, Oso Sweets, Mauis, Walla Wallas, Mayan Sweets, Sweet Imperials, and Texas Sweets. It is important to keep in mind that caramelization always focuses on the sugar content of food. The more sugar it contains, the better is the caramelization.
Prepare the Onions
If you are wondering how to caramelize onions fast, then you should slice the onions very thinly. This will allow the vegetable to cook a lot faster. It is also best to slice the onions from the root to the top instead of slicing them crosswise.
Use the Right Ratio of Oil to Onions
The caramelization process starts off by sautéing onions in oil. Here’s another secret. Stick to a ratio of 2:3. For every 3 pieces of medium-sized onions, make sure to use 2 tablespoons of oil. If you are going to caramelize 15 pieces of onions, then you will need to use 10 tablespoons of oil.
Most chefs use clarified butter when caramelizing onions. Others use a mixture of butter and oil. You can use coconut oil or vegetable oil. If you can keep the heat of the stove between 310 and 320 degrees Fahrenheit, you can use any type of oil. If you’re health conscious, olive oil is a good idea.
Sauté the Onions
Heat the butter or the oil in a large saucepan over medium to medium-high heat. It is important to use a cookware that has high sides, depending on the amount of onions that you will caramelize. Raw onions tend to have a much bigger volume than cooked ones. The cooking process softens the vegetables and allow them to shrink. A bigger pan allows you to mix the onions in the pan so that the slices will be coated with the oil in an even manner.
Caramelize the Onions
Sprinkle some salt after about 10 minutes. Table salt can help draw out moisture from the onions, leaving behind the sugars. This will also help soften the onions. At the same time, they take on a more succulent nature. The juices from the vegetable will also start to thicken.
The traditional way of caramelizing onions can take up to an hour or more of slow cooking. If you want quick caramelized onions, you can add a little amount of sugar. You can start with a teaspoon of granulated white sugar for every 5 pieces of onions. This can help hasten the process of caramelization.
Remember to stir the onions only occasionally. Stirring the onions too often can prolong the process of caramelization. However, it is crucial to watch them cook. You do not want to burn them.
At the 20-minute mark, reduce the heat and continue cooking the onions. At this point, it may be necessary to scrape the bottom of the saucepan every minute. This will help facilitate a more uniform caramelization process.
Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to help remove the browned bits. If you notice the onions starting to burn, you can add a little amount of water. You can also add oil if you want. Adding water can also help release the flavors of the caramelized bits at the bottom of the pan.
You can also add other flavors in your caramelized onions. Brandy and Madeira wine go well with onions. Add a little amount at a time, so you can make the necessary adjustments in the taste. You do not want to overpower the flavor of onions with these liquors.
Caramelized onions make a perfect addition to steaks and burgers. They can also enhance the flavors of soups and salads. Regardless of what food you are going to use it in, expect caramelized onions to make your dishes taste better.