Thursday, December 15, 2016

How to make browned onions if you are impatient!

What do I do when I want nice browned onions? Pan-fried onions (sometimes with carrots or celery) are the start of many soups, stews, ragouts, daubes, or garnishes. Some recipes say to brown them very slowly. They call them "caramelized" and say to take as much as an hour.

Really, I'm too impatient for that, so I do it like this:

  • I start browning the chopped-up onions in butter or oil. First I set the heat to high, and soon turn it down a bit to avoid burning onions. (Burned onions don't taste good at all. You know this.) 
  • If herbs or spices are called for, I add them to the onions after I lower the heat. Examples: smoked paprika, herbs de provence, curry powder or curry spices, garlic.
  • When the onions in the pan are just beginning to turn light brown: I add a little tiny bit of balsamic vinegar -- like 1/2 teaspoon. I like the Lucini brand, and also the cheaper balsamic at Trader Joe's. This helps the onions turn a beautiful shade of brown, and adds a bit of nice flavor. Fast!

Today I was buying balsamic vinegar at Trader Joe's and the check-out clerk commented on how much she liked it. 

"It's even good on fruit," she said.

I told her how I used it to brown onions in this satisfactory but quick way and she seemed delighted -- said she'd definitely try it. She said she thought they would be good as a topping for one of the Trader Joe's cheese products. I hadn't thought of this. 

The TJ employee's reaction made me realize that maybe there were other people that would like it if I shared this shortcut to browned onions.

Note: the onion photo is a google image-search screen shot. The other products are from the manufacturers' websites.


Beth F said...

Great idea! For inexpensive balsamic, I've been using Wegman's brand. I'll have to compare costs with Trader Joe's.

Mae Travels said...

Beth F: Wegman's doesn't have a presence here in Michigan, but I've shopped at their store in Fairfax VA and if I could, I would definitely shop there all the time!

Tina said...

I like the Lucini brand too, that's a great tip. We have Trader Joes here too, love it!

jama said...

Thanks for the tip! I love browned onions and will have to try this.

Claudia said...

A bit of Balsamic never hurts most things. I'll have to try that trick, though must admit to enjoying the process, and the smell of onions slowly caramelizing.