Caramelized Onions and Caramelized Onion Stock

This is a two-for-one recipe, using the glaze on the bottom of your onion pan as the base for some lovely stock.

One day I had made a batch of caramelized onions and after I removed them from the pan, I looked at the beautiful glaze that had formed toward the end of the cooking. I happened to be making soup that night, so I deglazed the pan with some white wine and water and got several cups of rich, dark flavor base! With just a few additions, the base became a flavorful stock that could be used in any soup, stew, or even in making rice.

Caramelized onions can be used in a great many dishes from a simple bruschetta to an element in a savory stuffing. Put them on sandwiches, or top a pizza. Use them in a dip, or top scrambled eggs. On a grilled cheese sandwich, they are heavenly; swirled into a simple bowl of pasta, divine. Top just about any vegetable or meat or  burger or tofu.  Now I am asking myself why I don’t always have them in the kitchen!

Low and slow, always

They are also easy to make, they just require time, at least two hours! But most of that time is not hands on, low and slow is what you want.

And when you are done with the caramelization, your pan will be caramelized as well. This glaze, or fond, will be the important base for your onion stock. The stock can be used in any recipe calling for a vegetable stock, and is perfect if you are making a vegetarian French onion soup. It freezes well, so you can always have it on hand.

Caramelized onions

2 tbsp. butter

1 tbsp. olive oil

4 or 5 large onions, sliced

1 tsp. maple syrup or sugar

Salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and add olive oil. Add all the onions to the pan at once along with the maple syrup and seasonings, and reduce the heat to the lowest setting.

raw onions

The onions will cook for up to two hours, stirring them occasionally. It takes time, but it cannot be rushed. If you cook them too fast, they will fry or sauté and never develop the velvety sweet texture.

Onions caramelizingThey will start to color in the first half hour, just stir now and then, pot uncovered.Almost there

By 50 to 60 minutes, the onions are well on their way. If making French onion soup, you would stop here to keep texture. However, we are making caramelized onions, so they need to go further.

add cider and cognacJust about there!

Take them as far as you want, but toward the end of cooking, they will start to color faster and leave a glaze on the pot. This is when they need to be watched. Note: For this application (stuffed peppers), I happened to add some garlic thus the white specks.

onion glaze

This marvelous glaze on the pan is gold and will be the beginnings of onion stock below.

Caramelized Onion Stock

You make this stock when you have a caramelized pan left from making caramelized onions! It is hearty and rich. Of course, if you haven’t made caramelized onions, you can still make a delicious onion stock. Just start with a clean pan and add an extra onion!

onion stock

The pot you made the onions in

2 tbsp. butter

2 large, sweet  onions, chopped

1 large carrot, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

End trimmings from the vegetables

1/3 cup white wine

Half a bunch of flat leafed parsley, stems and all

Bay leaf

8 cups of water

After removing the caramelized onions, add the butter to the pan over medium high heat. Add the vegetables, and sauté for five minutes or so. Deglaze the pan with the wine, then add the parsley and bay leaf and water.

Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, covered for about an hour over lowest.

Strain. This is quite concentrated, so you will need to add some water when adding to a recipe.

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