Thursday, November 12, 2015

Carmelized Onions in the Slow Cooker

Caramelized onions are one of my favorite foods. Can you call it a favorite food if you can't eat it solo? I love things with caramelized onions - burgers, pasta, steak - you name it, you can throw onions on it. We've made quite a few dishes with them here at MMC.

My only real issue with caramelized onions is the time required to make them and in this, I am not alone. According to Alton Brown, the caramelizing onions process requires removing most of the onions' moisture and converting the natural sugars within the onion (fancy fact: it's called a Maillard reaction). There are many articles for making the perfect caramelized onions - but none of them are really regularly suited for the busy mom lifestyle.

I just knew there had to be an easier way. Every so often Kayte brags to me about the amazing jars of caramelized onions Mary makes. It's a dedicated process in the oven, in which the onions are baked for an extended period of time and every so often you stir them. Totally worth it to make a huge batch! But still, there had to an easier way......You CAN cook down POUNDS of onions in a slow cooker with minimal effort. Once cooked, you can bag/can/otherwise store and freeze. I was able to defrost the onions straight from frozen.

After quite a bit of research, I experimentally cooked my onions, using a combination of two recipes from The Kitchn and Gimme Some Oven. The basics are as follows......

  1. Thinly slice up 3-5 lbs of onions and throw them in your slow cooker. 
  2. Toss with 3 tablespoons EVOO or melted butter.
  3. Cook for at least 8-10 hours on low. Stirring the onions occasionally will promote more even cooking, but is not required. 
  4. You can continue to cook 3 -5 more hours with the lid ajar. I highly encourage this, as my onions were full of liquid before this. The liquid is released during cooking, but can't escape the slow cooker like it can in the pan. 
  5.  Use, refrigerate or freeze. 
You can add balsamic vinegar or brown sugar during the last couple hours of cooking. I did not do this. However, depending on what I was using them for, I did add balsamic dressing during the reheating.
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