To caramelize something means to gently cook a fruit, vegetable or protein until the natural sugars start to toast, resulting in a caramel-brown color with a sweet, nutty flavor. Onions caramelize beautifully and turn from a raw, pungent bulb to a sweet, decadent veggie. While it does take some time and some patience, caramelizing onions is a technique worth mastering. So here’s how to caramelize onions!
1) Start by thinly slicing an onion. The thinner the onion, the faster the onions will caramelize.
I suggest starting with two large onions because the sliced onion will cook down and shrink as they begin to caramelize. Remember; two raw onions will only produce about one cup of caramelized onions.
2) In a large saute pan over medium-low heat, melt two tablespoons of unsalted butter. Once the butter is melted and starting to bubble, add the sliced onions and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pan until the onions are tender and browned throughout, about 25 minutes. Serve the onions immediately or cool down and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to one week.
Caramelized onions are delicious on pizzas with ricotta and parmesan. These onions are also great in a casserole with gruyere cheese and fresh thyme. Or my personal favorite, make a sandwich like the CC&BT recipe here, Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese with horseradish and dijon.