When I purchased Slow Cooker Cooking by Lora Brody, I had already decided to try the recipe for Caramelized Onions which was in a preview article in Cooking Light magazine. If you click on the link above, you can look inside the book at her recipe, which calls for the onions to be sliced first, unlike the recipe below. I would slice them first, so as to avoid the danger of dealing with slippery, whole onions later!
Unfortunately, the recipe in Cooking Light said to cook the onions for a full 24 hours! I kept looking and looking at the onions as they reduced more and more, and turned browner and browner. I finally cried “Chicken!” at around the 15-16 hour mark! Then I read the recipe in the cookbook, and it said 12-14 hours, but she added that it was almost impossible to overcook them. I disagree! I also tried skimming off and saving the onion butter, because it can be used to season things, but I finally threw it out – maybe next time!
Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions
Yield: About 5 cups onions and 2 cups liquid
“Whenever Vidalia or Sweet Maui onions show up in my local market, I buy a whole case, run home, and get out my slow cooker. I promise that the heavenly aroma of onions gently simmering will make your kitchen the most sought-after room in the house. The addition of these sweet golden brown onions and their cooking liquid will enliven a multitude of dishes in a way you never dreamed possible. Be sure to make extra to freeze – having them safely tucked away is like having extra money in the bank.” – Lora Brody
6 to 8 Vidalia or other sweet onions (approximately 2-1/2 pounds), 3 to 4 inches in diameter, stem and root ends removed, peeled and left whole
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
one 10-ounce can chicken or vegetable broth
Place the onions, butter, and broth in a slow cooker set on low and cook until the onions are deep golden brown and very soft, 12 to 24 hours. Different slow cookers will take different amounts of time. It’s almost impossible to overcook this, so go for the deepest brown.
Use the onions and liquid to flavor soup, stock, and stews. They make a wonderful addition to risotto, a perfect pasta sauce, and the world’s best pizza topping (first drain off the liquid).
Store in zippered plastic bags in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer up to 1 year.
Variations: Add cloves of peeled elephant garlic or a handful of shallots along with the onions.
Here are some recipes that I plan to try with my caramelized onions (safe in the freezer!):
French Onion Soup
2 (14 1/2 oz.) cans beef broth
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can fat-free chicken broth
1/4 c. dry Sherry
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. bottled minced garlic
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
2 c. caramelized onions with juice (see recipe)
2 c. plain, butter-flavored or garlic-flavored croutons
4 deli slices (about 4 oz.) Swiss cheese
4 tsp. Parmesan cheese, or more to taste
Place a broiler rack 6 inches from the heat, and turn on the broiler. Remove fat from the beef broth and pour the broth into a 4 1/2 quart Dutch oven or soup pot over high heat. Add the chicken broth, Sherry, Worcestershire, garlic and thyme. Stir well. Cover the pot and bring it to the boil.
Meanwhile, place 4 ovenproof bowls on a large baking sheet and set aside. When the broth boils, add the caramelized onions and cover. Reduce the heat to medium and boil for 1 minute to incorporate the onion flavor. Remove thepot from the heat.
Divide the soup among 4 bowls and sprinkle each bowl with 1/2 cup croutons. Lay a cheese slice over the croutons. Sprinkle each cheese slice with 1 teaspoon Parmesan cheese (or more to taste). Place the baking sheet under the broiler for 1 minute or until the cheese melts. Using pot holders, serve at once, making sure to warn diners that the bowls will be very hot.
Caramelized Onions can also be used in Pissaladiere, a Provencal pizza with onions, anchovies, and black olives. I also found an recipe for Risotto with Caramelized Onions and Roasted Chicken, which I may make on Sunday.