Onions contain sugars and the slow long cooking process brings them to the forefront. This is the caramelizing process. Cooking slowly will cause a material to change both in color, becoming browned, and flavor, as the sugar oxidizes. This process is called pyrolysis. Caramelization occurs with ingredients such as onions, meat, vegetables, even fruit. Eastern European dumplings such as pierogi frequently use caramelized onions as a condiment. However, you can use these for sandwiches, salads, charcutier trays, even on ice cream.
- 8-10 cups Sweet or Vadalia Onions*
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- ½-1 tsp sea salt
- ¼-½ tsp Freshly ground black pepper
- Slice the onions thin. You can use a mandolin for this chore, or if you have the knife skills, slice them by hand. They do not need to be “exact”, just thin.
- Place the butter in a large skillet, over medium low heat and heat until just sizzeling.
- When the butter has melted add the onions. Mix well with tongs. Reduce the leat to between medium to low.
- Add the salt and pepper, mix with tongs.
- The process of caramelizing these onions will take at least 3 hours and up to 4 hours. Low heat, slow caramelizing is the key. Turn them regularlly. This is not a chore that you can just leave on the stove. It must be watched to prevent burning and for even caramelization.
- The caramelized onions will be sweet and will not have any strong onion taste. They should be browned.
- The onions will lose water and shrink, so you will end up with much less volume than with which you started.