This is kind of similar to the roasted garlic miracle on here. Slowly caramelizing onions removes their abrupt flavor and draws out the inherent sweetness that lies beneath this most basic and affordable of ingredients. As a pro chef, I’m also subject to kitchen budgets; we chefs are trained to work with the most humble ingredients and transform them into elegant and complex food that diners want to eat. We can’t always look to the most expensive and exotic ingredients. Anyone can make filet mignon taste great, but the challenge lies in trying to create something exciting and delicious from what the budget allows, and sometimes that’s onions.
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil 3 large Spanish onions, peeled and sliced ½ teaspoon kosher salt
PREP:PEEL, CORE, AND SLICE THE ONIONS
In a 14-inch skillet, heat the olive oil over high heat. Add the sliced onions. Do not stir or shake the pan after the onions are added; just let the heat of the pan recover from adding the onions. Listen for a sizzling noise to return.
Season the onions with salt and begin to stir. You should see that the onions on the bottom, which hit the pan first, will have already started to brown.
Turn the heat down to medium and keep cooking, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. The onions will begin to soften and release their juices. This is exactly what you want to happen, so that you can caramelize the onions’ natural sugars.
Turn the heat down to low and cook, periodically stirring to make sure the onions don’t burn on the bottom, for another 30 minutes, or until they are completely soft and a rich dark brown color.
Transfer the onions to a separate bowl to cool. After they have completely cooled, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
These basic caramelized onions can have so many uses. They make a great burger or sandwich topping, and with the addition of wine or sherry can quickly turn into a sauce for beef, or a French onion soup on a cold night. Or even throw them into a Saturday-morning frittata or scrambled eggs for added flavor.
I prefer Spanish onions as my go-to, universal onion because white onions are often far too astringent and can easily overpower a dish.
—French Onion Soup
Combine 1 recipe caramelized onions, 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, 2 cups beef stock, and ¼ cup sherry in a medium saucepan. Stir and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 1 hour, uncovered, over medium-low heat. Taste and season. Divide among two or three soup crocks and top with croutons (Caesar Salad) and shredded Gruyère. Broil until bubbling and golden brown.