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......
- Thinly slice up 3-5 lbs of onions and throw them in your slow cooker.
- Toss with 3 tablespoons EVOO or melted butter.
- Cook for at least 8-10 hours on low. Stirring the onions occasionally will promote more even cooking, but is not required.
- 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.
- 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.