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How to: cook onions

Los Angeles, Ca January 28, 2016- Onions are a fundamental part of cooking and are in almost every recipe, so it’s important to figure out how to cook them correctly. Sometimes the simplest things are the most difficult to conquer and onions qualify as exactly that.

One summer I took on making French Onion Soup. I’ve always been a huge fan of its combination of sweet, acidic and creamy, cheesy flavors. After a few different batches I realized that expecting onions to caramelize quickly was a losing battle. They take as long as they take and it’s longer than you would anticipate.

Give onions the respect they deserve and here are a few tips to help you cook them just right.

Onion Tips:

  1. Onions should be sliced and diced into similar sizes. They will cook unevenly if they’re varied in size. Once you’ve mastered the slicing and dicing you can start cooking them.
  2. Use a Teflon pan to cook them. It has an even temperature across the entire surface.
  3. Add enough oil to lightly coat the entire pan and keep it on a medium low heat. If the fire is too hot you run the risk of burning the outside of the onion while leaving the inside undercooked.
  4. Cook the onions on a low heat.
  5. Make sure you stir the onions frequently for a long period of time . Sliced onions take longer to cook (it could be as long as an hour depending on the quantity) than diced onions. As a chef, you get to make the choice of how you want to cook your onions. There are some recipes with caramelized onions that are slightly black on the edges and a little brown in the middle. They offer a different flavor and texture to dishes like fajitas or a medley of roasted vegetables.
  6. Don’t crowd the pan. If there are too many onions in the pan they may never caramelize.
  7. Last, but not least, don’t forget to add fat (olive oil, rapeseed oil or canola oil) and deglaze the pan with water or chicken stock. When you deglaze the brown, color is released and absorbed into the onion.
  8. Onions are one of those really simple but very easy things to mess up. It’s such a crucial part of cooking and it’s very important to get it right. If the onions are burned, it can give the whole dish a burned flavor in the after taste, which is very unpleasant. I’m thrilled you’re cooking and please don’t be embarrassed about the simple questions. There are tons of people who feel exactly like you do.

Don’t forget to check out our my French Onion Soup recipe and follow me on Twitter @chefmarymoran!