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How to prepare caramelized onion

How to prepare caramelized onion


  • Easy
  • 50 minutes
  • For 4 people
  • 0.25 € / person
  • 198kcal per 100g.

How to make caramelized onion . I present you a basic in my kitchen and I think that in most of the cooking houses and gastronomy fans.

It is used in many recipes, an ingredient a great joker to give a special touch to a salad, on pizza, a tapa or simply as an accompaniment to meat or fish.

I usually prepare it in quantity and I have a small bottle in the fridge, you can’t imagine how a potato omelette with a little bit of this onion improves and how it enhances a risotto .

This ingredient was in fashion in the 90s. It could be found in most of the pinchos and tapas as we know them now, a full-fledged innovation to give that sweet flavor to most of the bar kebabs in areas like San Sebastián or Pamplona.

The combinations are very varied, with little effort we can get very successful dishes with a different touch. It perfectly complements the dishes with a point of salt or the preparations that are somewhat greasy, for example the touch it gives the foie is glorious.

Its elaboration is very simple, although it takes time, although we will give you some advice to speed up the caramelization of its juices, which are responsible for all its flavor. Although if you do it as I explain in the recipe you will not need sugar to get an almost perfect caramelized onion.

A very simple recipe that will come out delicious by following a few tips and tricks to make it delicious. Do you already know what dish you are going to make with this delicacy?

Cut the onions. Caramelization preparation

  1. Peel the onions and cut with the type of cut that suits us best. In this case in julienne, that is to say in strips, not too thin.
  2. We put the extra virgin olive oil in the non-stick frying pan with a lid so that it covers the bottom. From the beginning we started with medium fire (never high).
  3. When it has a little temperature, add the onion. The oil does not have to be very hot because we do not want the onion to burn or catch color right away, it will be done over time.
  4. We remove well so that everything goes through the oil, we help ourselves with a wooden spoon or a silicone spatula so that they are done well everywhere.
  5. We lower the heat and let it be done little by little. There is no need to be in a hurry, the process lasts between 30 and 40 minutes, watching at all times so that it does not burn.
  6. We will see that the onions begin to decrease and become transparent, little by little it will take on that soft golden color.

Maillard reaction. Final presentation of the caramelized onion

  1. We do not add salt, sugar or anything, we just let it gradually brown. It is important that it does not burn, we do not want black and white pieces but everything more or less uniform.
  2. You have to stir from time to time so that everything is done uniformly. This way we will ensure that there are no raw parts or burned parts. After minutes, the color is darker, there are more and more browns.
  3. The Maillard reaction is taking place . In which the sugars that the onion contains begin to melt like caramel, giving the onion a beautiful color.
  4. When the onion has reduced to more than half its size, add the two tablespoons of water and stir.
  5. In this way, the mixture will acquire a creamier texture. The water, when removed, dissolves the sugars and forms a light caramel. As we remove, it makes everything stay the same color.
  6. Finally, the onion will go from soft browning to the typical toasted caramelized onion. At that time we add a pinch of salt to enhance the flavor and remove from the heat.

You see, the perfect onion for a sofrito. Luxury accompaniment to some broken eggs , a potato omelette , game and pork dishes, onion soup , a toast or skewer   or with blue fish. Reduced in the mixer with a little juice, we will have the best onion sauce you have ever tasted).

As you can see it is very simple, although it requires patience and time. But the result is fabulous, I assure you. You will tell us!

Tricks to make caramelized onions quickly

If you want to speed up the onion caramelization process there are two very simple tricks that we can use.

With bicarbonate we will get a really powerful caramelized. In 5 it will be poached and in less than 15 minutes we will have the candied onion.

The other with sugar we will be able to accelerate the reaction of Maillard. Although the onion will be left with a flavor similar to jam, not caramelized onion.

  • The first trick: For this we are going to use an ingredient that you have surely forgotten on some shelf or drawer in your kitchen:  baking soda . This product will help us enhance our onions with even sweeter and caramelized notes. With it we achieve a basic technique in chemistry that consists of speeding up the process by reducing the acidity of the onion (increases its PH) with an alkaline product such as bicarbonate.
    We will use very little bicarbonate, just the tip of a knife (about  2 grams for each onion  that we are going to caramelize). We put a frying pan on the fire with a splash of extra virgin olive oil, the onion cut into rings, a pinch of salt ( 5 grams of salt per onion ) and the baking soda. We do it over high heat and we will see how the onion turns yellow immediately. In 5 minutes the onion has released its own juice that will be made in the oil. We lower the heat to half and cook the onion for another 5 minutes until we reach the desired point.
  • The second trick: We add a dessert teaspoon of brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of water for every 2 onions. In this case you will see that the onion is sweeter. Almost like a jam, but it can be a good option if we are in a hurry or the onion variety is not the most suitable.

We can freeze the caramelized onion to use it at another time. Or you can store it in an airtight glass jar for several days in the refrigerator.

Tips for a perfect caramelized onion

  • Contrary to popular belief, caramelized onions do not add sugar throughout their process. The caramelized onion is achieved by the oxidation of the natural sugars that the onion contains, in this way it is caramelized.
  • The process is very simple although it takes time. You will need between 40 minutes and an hour. Make quantity, even double what I have put in the recipe and you will have for a long season.
  • Remember that the choice of onion is important, you have very sweet white onion and some of the purple onions, although with a common onion it is also possible.
  • It is essential to know before which recipe the caramelized onion will accompany . The type of cut we use will help make any dish sublime. If we are going to use the onion for fillings or sauces, it is best to chop it very finely, in very small cubes so that it is hardly noticeable once it is done.
  • If instead we are going to use it to skewer or cover, with meat or on fish, I like it to be seen, to be one more on the plate, in this case we will cut it into julienne strips, where they are seen the strands of the confit onion.

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