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Lovely Caramelized Onions

About a year ago, I read an article in one of the dozen of so cooking magazines I get monthly about caramelizing onions. I thought I would try it, set the magazine aside, and quickly forgot about the idea. 6 or so months ago, I was spending the day with my Meme(grandma) and she made us breakfast for dinner. She fried potato slices and onion in butter. Around this time, I bought my first cast iron skillet and thought I would give this simple, yet very delicious dish, a try in it. I cooked my onions first, to season the butter and pan, and my potatoes after. I served it with a side of cheese grits and I think my husband was ready to lick the dish. The onion/potato combination is wonderful.

Around the 3rd time of making this, it dawned on me…I’m slightly caramelizing these onions…next time, I’ll take them all the way. I did a little reading and learned that some people add garlic or sugar to theirs. I wasn’t a fan of doing either of those. I cut up a few small onions and went to work. Caramelizing onions is a labor of love. I was trying to do this while my toddler was trying to push me away from the stove for my undivided attention. It takes a good 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how many onions you’re cooking. The times I’ve had the most success was when I was using my cast iron skillet. They are SO good over fried, mashed or baked potatoes. We even like them over buttered, salty grits.

A few weeks ago, I wanted to find a few new ideas involving vegetarian recipes and my crockpot. I found a woman who cooked a recipe a day in her crockpot and documented it in a blog. One of her recipes was caramelizing onions in the crockpot and a followup using them in a vegetarian French onion soup. I was intrigued.  So last weekend, I bought a giant bag of onions from the grocery store and went to town slicing them. My eyes were watering like crazy and I was just thinking about the delicious onions we would have at the end of the 10 hour cooking time. Trial and error here, I bought small yellow onions and they did NOT do well in this recipe. I actually threw the first batch away and bought a bag of ‘sweet’ onions the next day. These didn’t kill the eyes as badly as the first batch and came out so much better. I really don’t know a lot about  onions and which ones are good to use for what recipe…but this is an EXPERIMENT blog. Learning as I go. The original recipe is found at Vegetarian Slow Cooker. I made some modifications and will share those below.

I used about 5 medium size onions for this recipe

4 tablespoons of butter

Cooking spray

Remove outer skins of onions and slice into ‘half moons’.

Cut butter into pieces

Spray the inside of the crockpot well with cooking spray. The original recipe called for garlic, I tried some garlic in my original attempt and did not like it. If you like garlic, give it a try.

Place onions and butter in crockpot and give it a stir.

I didn’t really worry about separating my onions slices, when stirring they separated and also during the cooking process. The original recipes calls for cooking on high for 10 to 12 hours. My onions would have been black by this point. It also says to stir every so often to keep the outside onions from burning, especially if you have black crockpot. The first batch I made, I put them on high and came back to check on them and give them a stir 2 hours later, they were halfway done at this point. Next time around, I cooked them on low and they took around 4 to 5 hours. I stirred once or twice.

You are looking for tender, golden onions.

Remember, they cook down to about half or less of the size of the pile of onions you start out with.

Like I said earlier in the post, my intention was to turn them into a vegetarian French onion soup the next day. I am a partial vegetarian, I eat chicken occasionally but stay way from ‘4 legged animals’. I went to Whole Foods to get a container of vegetarian ‘beef’ broth and accidentally bought REAL beef broth. One of those days I suppose. I haven’t had  a chance to go back yet and the onions are still sitting in the fridge. I did a taste test and they are REALLY good. The original recipe says that they’ll keep for sometime in the fridge, I am hoping to get to the store tomorrow and make it by this weekend! It’s been cold and rainy and I would love some soup!