Here's a good project for a Sunday afternoon: make a batch of caramelized onions. They take about an hour and don't require a lot of attention, so once you get them going, just put in a load of laundry, and let them do their thing. I like to make them in a big batch because they cook down quite a bit and, when they're done, I put them in the refrigerator and use them throughout the week to top off burgers, meatloaf, pasta, and soup. They're delicious tucked into an omelette, inside a grilled cheese sandwich, or on top of lentils and rice.
The secret to making perfect caramelized onions is "low and slow" — that is, keep the heat very low and cook them very slowly. Generally I only use a pinch of salt when making them, but you can also add a pinch of sugar, which will give them a little bit more of a sticky caramel-like texture, which can be very good on top of baked beans or pork chops. If you're entertaining for a crowd, like at a Super Bowl party, caramelized onions are a great topping for bratwurst or minced and mixed into sour cream with some cumin and cayenne pepper for a great chip dip!
Here's what you'll need to make 1 cup:
4 large yellow onions
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Peel the onions and cut in half, then slice thinly, about 1/4" thick slices. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat and add the onions and the salt. Stir so that the onions are coated in the olive oil and let cook for about 3 or 4 minutes, until the onions begin to sweat and release some liquid into the pan. Turn the heat down to low and let the onions continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for about an hour, until they are completely softened and golden. Allow to cool completely, then put into an airtight container and refrigerate for up to one week.
Carla's tip: Don't throw away the onion tops and skins when you peel the onions! Put them into a gallon-size zip-top plastic bag, along with carrot and potato peelings, radish tops, and other vegetable scraps, and put the bag in your freezer. When the bag is full, empty the contents into a stockpot, cover with water, add a couple of bay leaves; bring to a boil and then let simmer for about 30 minutes. Strain off the solids and you'll have a flavorful vegetable broth for soup, stew, and gravy!
Fiesta tableware provided by Homer Laughlin China Company.