Monday, May 12, 2008

Sauteed Onions: Meat's Best Friend

You know there is a difference in degree of sauteed onions. Clarified, caramelized and incinerated. If you're the kind of person who likes their food burned beyond all recognition, then sod off, because we do real cooking here. I don't pander to the “put as much hot sauce on as you can to melt your lower intestine” crowd and I certainly won't tolerate any “I like my crap burned to an unidentifiable crisp” group.

What you need:
  • onion(s)
  • olive oil
  • a frying pan
  • a sharp large knife

Step 1: Cry me a river.
Everyone know onions make you cry. Not everyone knows why. One of the reasons is because when you cut that little nub of root off, a chemical get released. When breathed in makes your eyes water. I think it's a survival mechanism. If the root is still viable and intact I'm guessing the bulb can grow back or grow new offshoot bulbs. ANYWAY – if you want to avoid a shower of tears and snot, which doesn't mesh well with anything, here's what you do. Get your knife and cut the top of the onion off, leaving the root. The root is where all those stringy bits are hanging off. DON'T CUT THIS – until I tell you to do so. Now, take that big, scary knife and just slice the onion so you have rings.

Step 2: Baby light my (electric stove top) fire.
When you slice the onion down to the root nub, set it aside and grab your pan. ....The frying pan, get your head out of the garbage disposal. Put the pan on the burner and set it to medium. If you're watching your weight, Pam Spray is your friend. Spray just enough to coat the pan. If you don't mind a little extra olive oil (hey, it's healthy) then about a table spoon, or enough to coat the pan lightly will do. You can always add to this, taking out is much harder, so easy does it. Get a small piece of onion and throw it in the pan. When that starts to hop and sizzle it's time to add the rest.

Step 3: Let's get it on (the stove).
Ok, now there are a few different levels of cooked onions. For soups, sauces and risotto combinations you will need to just clarify the onions. We'll start here. Keep your heat on medium and move the onions around with a wooden spoon or plastic spatula, whatever you feel more comfortable with.** Keep moving the onions around for about 3 minutes or so. They will become translucent and soft, but not brown like hamburger onions. For caramelized onions you don't have to move the onions very much. Move them around every once in a while until they are golden brown and soft. The best way to test for done-ness in this case is to snag one out of the pan and eat it. You can add salt and pepper if you want or just slap it on the burger or steak.

** NEVER USE METAL IN A TEFLON PAN!!!!!!!!!!!! You will scrape the pan, destroy the non sticking aspects and get the toxic coating in your food. That's why you never cut anything in said pan!


Paige said...

i live by this when cutting onions- put a saltine in your mouth while cutting, don't eat it it but hold it on your tongue open mouth when cutting and you won't cry. I read this somewhere and I don't know why it works but it REALLY DOES!

Corwin Bl├║dravn said...

I personally use s trick I learned at my second kitchen job where I cut a whole burlap sack of onions each day. Chew mint gum...the stronger the mintyness the better.