miss_s_b: (Mood: Smug)
[personal profile] miss_s_b posting in [community profile] weekly_food_challenge
I'm not going to lie to you guys, caramelising onions takes ages. I'm one of those people who can't eat immediately upon getting up, though, and the hour and a half or so that this takes is enough for me to work up an appetite.

You will need:
  • A hob
  • A big heavy frying pan/skillet, pref cast iron (non-stick gets damaged quickly with this kind of use)
  • A wooden spatula
  • Some onions (for a ten inch frying pan, five medium onions is about right), and a chopping board to chop them on, and a knife to chop them with.
  • Some butter (about a tablespoon-worth for five onions).
  • Dark brown sugar (only a bit - for five onions you only need about one-to-two tablespoons).
  • Some cinnamon (about a teaspoon for five onions).
  • A whisky tumbler and a teaspoon.
  • A liquid ingredient - red wine is traditional, but I like to use Henderson's Relish. You could also use Worcestershire sauce, or balsamic vinegar, or a sharp juice, maybe.
  • Something to serve it with, and/or a jar to put it in. This morning's five onions' worth of caramelised onions made four brie, bacon and caramelised onion sandwiches for breakfast.

Method (with timestamped photos for your convenience, all of which can be embiggenned by clicking through):
  • Put your pan on the largest ring but the lowest heat to warm through while you peel and chop the onions. Add the butter to the pan.

  • Chop the onions by cutting them in half lengthwise, and then into slices. Add to the pan as you go, till you get this:


  • Wiggle them about a bit with your wooden spatula. If you're confident that you've got your pan temperature right, go sit down for ten to fifteen minutes. If you're less confident, stay by the pan and keep checking.

  • Come back to the pan and carefully turn the onions over, so that any browned bits are on top, and raw bits are on the bottom. If you've got any more brown bits than this:



    ... Your pan is too hot. It's really easy to get your pan too hot for this. Remember: the aim is to do this slowly, to release all the natural onion flavours without any burning at all.

  • Keep slowly bringing the bottom onions to the top and the top onions to the bottom every few minutes


  • At some point you will notice that little slivers of onion skin are starting to stick to the bottom of the pan:



    At this point, you need to keep a closer eye on things. Scrape up the slivers with your wooden spatula and mix them in with the rest of the onions. The slivers (some people call them "fond") are the bits that make the flavour so good, and it's really important to keep them combined with the rest of the onions and not let them stay stuck to the bottom of the pan, where they will burn.

  • Almost an hour in:



    You'll note that the volume of onion you have now is a lot less than when you started.

  • This is the time to start prepping your things to serve it with - spread the bacon out on a baking tray so you can do it in the oven rather than buggering about turning it in a pan; slice your brie and put it on some bread, and put that on a baking tray too so you can warm/melt the brie a little; put the oven on to preheat; etc.

  • An hour and a quarter in:



    All the onions are brown and translucent, and I was so hungry that this is the point I decided I couldn't take it any more and started the final countdown. Ideally I would have let them get a bit darker than this (this is also when the bacon went into the oven).
  • Mix your brown sugar and your cinnamon together in the whisky tumbler with the teaspoon. Add to the pan:


  • immediately start moving the sugar and onion mixture around in the pan. You do not want the sugar to burn, but you do want it fully incorporated into the mixture. Keep moving it around for five to ten minutes, till it is a glossy, almost jam consistency:


  • Add the liquid, and stir it around some more. This is the point you put your bread-with-brie-on in the oven if you're doing that.

  • Keep stirring until you get back to the jammy consistency.

  • Put the carelised onions in a jar if you're keeping them, or on the top slice of your sandwich if you're eating them straight away.

  • Pull everything out of the oven: the bottom sandwich slice with the brie on goes on a plate, then add the bacon, then add the top slice with the caramelised onions already applied.

  • Eat immediately

Here's a pic of my breakfast:

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