Carmelized Onions at the Ready

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Caramelized onions are a delicious addition to hundreds of meals. Since this dish takes about thirty minutes to an hour to complete, you can simply opt for this make ahead and freeze recipe that allows you to have this tasty add-on any time. The first step is learning how to make the side dish.

Caramelizing Onions

Caramelized onions are cooked slowly until they turn brown and sweet. You will need more onions than you may expect to make this dish since they will cook down and reduce in volume. For example, to make one batch you will need about four large yellow onions. You can also use red or white varieties if you prefer. To begin, follow these steps:

  • Melt a pat of butter on medium heat in a large sized skillet. Make sure that your skillet isn't too hot, or the sugars will burn instead of caramelizing.
  • Chop each onion into bite sized pieces or short strips and add to the heated pan.
  • Allow the onion to cook slowly, stirring every five to ten minutes. It will take about an hour to carmelize if you are making a large batch. Don't rush it.
  • Watch the bottom of the pan for a brown, sticky substance to begin forming. This is the sugars being released. When you begin to notice the sugar carmelize, you can keep it from burning by adding a tiny bit of water or balsamic vinegar to the pan. Make sure not to add the liquid too early or you may disrupt the process.

After cooking, you will notice that the onions are reduced greatly in volume and are deep brown. If you are planning to freeze the dish, or part of it, you will need to let it cool first. You may freeze the dish in a muffin tin before transferring to plastic bags or simply place them, once cooled, in small freezer  zipper plastic bags.

Thawing and Using

You can use this wonderfully sweet-savory side in pasta, in meatloaf or meatballs, on burgers, or in nearly any dish that you would normally use onions. Freezing in portion sized plastic bags is ideal if you typically cook for one or two people. If you have a family, you may want to opt for freezing in half-cup portions. To thaw, you can simply add the onion to the dish about ten minutes before it is done cooking or thaw ahead of time by placing the sealed bag in hot water. In one hour, you can have enough of this easy make ahead dish to add to several meals throughout the month.