Caramelized Onions can add a delicious sweet and savory flavor to many dishes, however the perfect caramelized onion is an elusive creature. One problem with them is that everyone has their own view of a perfect caramelized onion. I personally like them soft but not to the point of mush. They need to mostly stay together and not just break down into paste. Here is how I accomplish this.
First of all you want to keep your onion slices a little bit thicker than you might think. If you slice them super thin, they will get mushy very quickly. The thicker they are, the better chance you have of keeping just a slight bit of firmness in them. Too thick and they will take forever to cook and might stay too firm. I usually go for about ⅛" thick for the onion slices.
Caramelized Onions Take Time
For cooking them, you need to make sure you have enough time to get the desired result. To caramelize these properly without burning them, you need close to an hour. Low and slow wins the race with caramelized onions. Cook them too fast and you have sauteed onions.
Easy On The Oil
Add some oil but not a lot of oil. You basically want enough oil to give a very light coating to the onions but not deep fry them. One good way of doing this is to melt the butter, mix it with the olive oil and toss the onions in that mix prior to throwing them in the pan. This assures enough oil to coat the onions but not enough so they are sitting in it frying.
Watch That Heat
Medium low is the way to go! Much lower and you really will be there all day, much higher and you will quickly brown them. You want to hear a little sizzle in the pan, but just a little. If you hear absolutely no sound at all, it's probably too cold. It's one of those things that you will just have to learn to judge on your own. Another thing is to cook these onions uncovered, you don't want them to steam.
Caramelize Your Caramelized Onions
You want a nice caramel color, getting this color takes time. Don't rush the process and take them off before you get the proper color. Color and flavor go hand in hand with these.
You can use these caramelized onions in our Caramelized Onion, Bacon & Pear Pizza recipe or any other recipe that calls for them.