Hey everyone, it’s Kevin! Today I have an incredibly simple but versatile recipe for one of my favorite sides, caramelized onions.
Did You Say Side?
Technically, caramelized onions aren’t really a side, but more of a condiment used to complement the flavors of the dish it’s in. They’re usually used as a topping for a burger, and they’re probably most well known for being used in French Onion Soup.
However, as a lover of onions, I firmly believe that it can hold its own as a side dish when paired with the right entree. Usually, I like to eat it with a juicy steak or other salty meat dish. The deeply rich and sweet flavor melds perfectly in your mouth with the savory flavors of the meat.
What Makes Caramelized Onions “caramelized”?
Caramelization is the process of oxidizing sugar, which is achieved by the release of water as steam, and the breaking down of the sugar itself. What’s important to remember is that caramelization only occurs at certain temperatures. If the heat is too high, the sugar in the onions will burn instead of caramelizing. As such, you should make sure to frequently check up on them while they’re cooking and lower the temperature if the onions start to burn.
Don’t worry though if you start seeing brown stuff stick to the bottom of the pan! This is the sugar being released from the onions and reacting to create the complex flavors that are present in caramelized onions. Be sure to scrape them up though and mix it back in with the onions before they start to burn. If you’re into food science, Science of Cooking has a great article about the chemistry behind caramelization.
How Do I Know When My Onions Are Done?
This will generally depend on how caramelized you want your onions to be. Here are some pictures for reference of what the onions should look like in 10 minute intervals.
At around the 20 minute mark, the onions should already be beginning to caramelize, but you’ll want to wait at least another 20 minutes before considering taking them out of the pan. At the 40 minute mark, the onions should be soft enough and caramelized enough to be eaten by themselves. For reference, in the plated photos of the caramelized onions above, I cooked them for 60 minutes. If you’re planning on using them as a burger topping though, you can cook it for even longer so they become a dark brown.
Caramelized onions are one of the easiest and tastiest sides you can make, all you need is a little patience.
Let’s get started!
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