Can you add any more information? what use do you have planed for them? Onions are fragile. Depending on their use, you may slightly change your method.
If you want to just sweat them without adding any color, do it with a small amount of oil or butter over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes, tossing/stirring occasionally. If you want them caramelized, use a small amount of oil, get it nice and hot before adding your onions, and then saute, stirring/tossing occasionally until you get the desired color. About 3-6 minutes depending.
we can provide more specific instructions if you would let us know exactly what you are using them for.
I use a low heat and be prepared to sauté for 45+ minutes. If using videllia or walla walla just cook over the heat and stir until caramelized. If using a white or yellow onion I don't mind adding a pinch of sugar - still cook and stir for 45+ minutes.The trick is to not cook fast over high heat but relax and cook slow and low. Have a glass of wine to calm down. You can do a day ahead and re-heat.And, do twice as much as you think you need - they reduce dramatically - but save well.
pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.
I agree with bigpan on this one. That's the way I was taught to do it in a French kitchen. Your patience will be rewarded with fragrant and sweet onions. Wonderful in onion soup.
Just did this yesterday. What big pan says is absolutely correct. And err on the side of more onions than you think you will need. They shrink down dramatically in volume as they cook.
I recently read an article on Slate (I think) about the onion problem. The recommendation: Place the onions on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment, and shove 'em in the oven on 400 or so, and cook them until they're soft and shrunken. Do nothing to the onions -- don't peel them, no oil -- nothing. I've tried it -- and it works. The onions just slip out of the skins, and can be tossed in a pan to finish off them off if more caramelization is needed. I diced some up and froze them in small packets. Couldn't be easier.
Ahh..there's a place here that did a baked Valdalia onion. Served kinda like a 'blooming onion' slicing in a radial pattern with a couple of wooden spoon handles and chop sticks to keep the cuts from going all the way through; Then seasoned with salt and olive oil wraped in foil and bakedl and served spread open with a sautee of matchsticks of Prosciutto ham in the center and good bread.
Sarah is a trusted source on General Cooking.
What do you mean by sautéed? If caramelized - as big pan says. (Sorry, Benny, how do you do caramelized onions in 3-6 minutes?? This might be the article Melusine is thinking of: http://ow.ly/aFj8x )
"Sweat the onions" - Sometimes you just want to take the rawness out and sweat them in butter or oil - sweetens them up but doesn't cause any colour. This is done over low heat until they smell fragrant & sweet. You can even add a few drops of water to prevent colouring. Usually for soups or sauces.
"Brown the onions" - Sometimes you want a quick sear for the brown colour on the outside, but not to fully convert the sugars over the long, low & slow process of caramelized onions. Browning gives a darker, richer flavour. For this you'll need a higher heat and to make sure there's enough surface area for the liquids to evaporate to keep the pan dry.
Always add seasoning (salt) at the start in any case - good cooks season all the way through, not just at the end.
I honestly have no idea why I typed 3-6 minutes in my original reply. I must have been thinking of something else as I typed. I will blame it on a rare "brain fart". In my defense, I made that reply the day after a really long bachelor party, so my head was not all there. I didn't correct myself, because everyone else had already answered in a much more useful manner.
Yes, indeed. If all you want to do is toss them on top of a burger or a steak sandwich you can cook them quickly in a skittle or on a griddle. They'll have nice color but may come off tasting a little bitter. Your end purpose is what matters.
A touch of baking soda will help the caramelization of onions and carrots; and lessen some of the bitterness of late winter onions or yellow onions. Sweet summer onions do just fine with long slow heat. That and everything Sara said...sweat them and wait.
slow and low.
Slow and low is definitely the way. Onion soup can take 40 minutes - there's no such thing as a quick sautee of onions - at least 8 minutes to translucent.
I have to chime in and say that low/slow is very western. For Indian food, you want color. Stir often on high heat, add water if necessary, will take 15-20 minutes.
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