It’s autumn and the fall onions are in season. It’s the perfect time of year for caramelized onions; full of umami, mouth-watering, sweet, savory, and pungent. Their rich flavor adds so much to vegetarian dishes. It’s the time of year to start making soups, stews, risottos, and casseroles. They all taste more satisfying with caramelized onion either mixed in, or on top. Colds are already going around the metro Detroit area and onions help us to fight them off. Most people don’t make them because they take a really long time and need to be watched carefully so they don’t burn. Here’s a method of making caramelized onions that needs no babysitting.
Onions caramelize very well in a slow cooker. They’re easy and no-fuss. All that’s needed are about 5 large onions, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, ½ tsp. salt, and a 4 to 6 quart slow cooker. The Crock-Pot type of slow cooker with a crockery insert works best for this. The key is to fill the slow cooker ½ to ¾ full with sliced onions. Stirring every couple of hours gives the best results, but it’s not necessary. These can be made with either white, yellow, or red onions.
Peel onions, cut in half, and slice into long, thin slices.
Place in slow cooker with oil and salt, and toss together to coat onions thoroughly.
Set slow cooker to low, and cook 10 hours. (Optional: stir about every couple of hours)
Variation: For deeper caramelization: After cooking for 10 hours, stir onions, turn lid so it sits ajar on cooker pot and leaves slight opening to let steam escape. Continue cooking on low for additional 2 to 4 hours, checking every hour until desired degree of caramelization is reached, and liquid has cooked off.
Remove onions from cooker. Use amount needed for recipes. Remaining onions can be refrigerated or frozen for later use. They stay good in the refrigerator for about a week.
The more deeply caramelized onions are great on the popular Lebanese dish called Mjadara. Click here for a recipe.
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