THE Best Way to Cook Onions ~ Honestly! ~ plus delicious ways to use them.

This is the way I most often cook onions; it concentrates the flavour and makes them sweet, very tender and a superb base for so many dishes.

I believe my proficiency in this department has helped a lot in my professional life and also, perhaps, in my personal life, if you believe the old adage about the way to man’s heart being through his stomach.


how-to-cook-onions

Sweet & Tender Onions


med/large onions – about 250g ea
15 g butter OR 1 tablespoon of olive oil (healthier and still delicious) per onion
pinch of salt

~    Peel the onions, halve them lengthwise and thinly slice into half moons.
~    Heat the butter or oil in a small pan with a lid and toss and separate the sliced onions in the fat to coat.
~    Sprinkle with a little salt.
~    Press something appropriate (a piece of foil, a piece of baking parchment, greaseproof paper or a butter wrapper) directly onto the onions to cover completely.  Try not to burn yourself on the side of the pan.
~    Turn the heat down to low and put the lid on the pot.   The onions should not so much fry in the butter as gently steam in it.
~    Cook slowly until the onions are soft enough to cut with the edge of a wooden spoon.  You can stir once or twice during this time - they will take about 30 minutes.

They are now melty and delicious and quite sweet too because of the natural sugars in the onions.  


Caramelised Onions


To caramelise the onions, when they are are completely soft take off the lid, turn up the heat and cook on high for a few minutes stirring constantly until the onions begin to caramelise and just start sticking on the bottom of the pan.


how-to-caramlise-onions



These onions, caramelised or not, can now be used without further ado to enhance many simple dishes – add to sandwiches, burgers, steaks, see towards end of post for loads of ideas.

They can also be used as the basis of so many dishes.  Here’s a few recipes to get you started and then links to lots more ideas and recipes.

French Onion Dip


In the States there has long been a recipe for French Onion Dip which was, basically, a packet of soup mix stirred into sour cream.  Not this one! 

Again, whichever onions you prefer will work for this but red are prettiest.
2 x 225g/8oz onions
30g/1oz butter
225g/8oz sour cream
200g/7oz mayonnaise
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
freshly ground black pepper to taste

~   Melt the onions as per usual.
~   When completely tender turn up the heat and stir until caramelised.
~   Allow to cool.
~   Beat together the sour cream and mayonnaise then stir in the onions.
~   Season to taste with the Worcestershire sauce and pepper.

homemde-french-onion-dip


Handy hint for the benefit of my American readers; in the UK we say “Worcester Sauce”, which we pronounce “wooster sauce” – give it a go, it’s so much easier!

Brie baked with Caramelized Onions


2 x 225g/8oz onions
30g butter
1 x 250g Brie in its box
60ml dry white wine
crunchy sea salt
an optional sprig or two of thyme

~   Melt the onions in the butter.
~   When completely soft add the wine and then simmer it away to nothing!
~   Preheat the oven to soubise 350°F/180ºC/160ºC fan/gas 4.
~   Unwrap the cheese and remove and discard the top rind.
~   Return the cheese to its box and stand it on a baking tray.
~   Top with the melted onions, sprinkle with sea salt and top the thyme sprigs.
~   Bake for 10-15 minutes till melted and turning golden round the edges.
~   Serve immediately with crusty bread or crackers for dipping purposes.


baked-brie-caramelised-onions

Melted Onion Risotto 

Serves 4

4 medium sized onions of either colour
3 tablespoons olive oil
950ml/33½ fl oz chicken or vegetable stock
50g/2oz butter
200g/7oz – 300g/10½oz Arborio rice
120ml/4¼ fl oz dry white wine
50g/2oz freshly grated Parmesan or similar
freshly ground black pepper

~   Melt the onions in the olive oil in accordance with the genius recipe, continuing to the final step so that they are fully caramelised. Set the onions to one side.
~   Bring the stock almost to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer gently.
~   Add half the butter to the oniony pan and melt over medium heat.
~   Stir in the rice and turn in the buttery onions to coat. 
~   Cook stirring gently for about a minute till the rice looks glossy and a little translucent round the edges.
~   Add the wine and cook for about a minute, stirring, till the rice has absorbed it.
~   Add enough of the simmering stock to the rice to just cover and simmer, stirring frequently, till almost all the broth has been absorbed.
~   Continue adding stock and simmering till absorbed until the rice is just tender – i.e. it has just a little bite to it when you try it.  It may not need all the stock.
~   When just right add the rest of the butter, half the onions, half the cheese then taste and season.
~   Serve immediately topped with the rest of the onions and the rest of the cheese.

Blue cheese is a good alternative to Parmesan type cheese in this risotto and here’s a handy hint.  Keep a piece of blue cheese in the freezer and grate from frozen, it is easier that way.


caramelised-onion-risotto


Miroton de Boeuf 

Serves 4

Whilst in the UK we tend to make Cottage Pie with our leftover roast beef the French have a different way of dealing with their leftover rosbif (or with leftover pot au feu). This is a simple version because there are many different ones out there involving such things as, mushrooms, tomatoes and cornichons.

600g/21oz or so leftover roast beef – sliced
2 med/large onions melted as above
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
600ml/21fl oz rich beef stock (if using leftover pot au feu use the stock from that)
a handful of fresh breadcrumbs

~   When the onions are really tender and just starting to turn golden stir in the flour and cook gently for a couple of minutes.
~   Add the hot stock and bring to a boil, stirring till smooth and thickened
~   Turn down the heat and simmer for at least 10 minutes to amalgamate the flavours, adding a little more stock as necessary.
~   Stir in the vinegar then taste and season.
~   Arrange the beef slices in an ovenproof dish.
~   Pour over the gravy, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and bake till hot and bubbling – 15 minutes or so.

For a more substantial version arrange the sliced beef over a bed of sliced


homemade-caramelised-onion-scone-recipe


Caramelised Onion Scones


1 medium onion
15g knob of butter
a little salt
1 x key recipe – no sugar

~   Cook the onion as above and caramelise it.
~   Allow to cool.
~   See here for my Basic Scone Recipe  and make the scones as usual adding the cooked onion before the milk and then adding the milk abstemiously.




Mushrooms Soubise 


Soubise has, traditionally but confusingly meant either a dish of rice and tender onions OR, more commonly, tender onions in a béchamel sauce. My sister and I, however, have always this term as a short form for this our much preferred method of cooking onions. We even named this dish after it.   
    
1 medium onion
1 ounce butter and maybe a little more
½ teaspoon minced garlic
450g button mushrooms
100ml dry white wine
1 veg bouillon cube (optional – in fact it’s all optional really, get creative!)
175ml double cream

~   Melt the onions in the butter till really tender but not taking any colour.
~   Quarter the mushrooms.
~   Tip the melted onions and all their buttery juices into a hot frying pan.
~   Add the quartered mushrooms and the garlic and sauté all together, adding a little more butter if necessary, till both the mushrooms and the onions are turning a little golden.
~   Add the wine, which will boil instantly, quickly crumble in the bouillon cube if using, and cook till almost all the wine is gone, which won’t be long!
~   Add the cream and bring to a boil.
~   Turn down the head and simmer for a minute or so till thick.
~   Taste and season.

island-art-cafe



My sister Maggie (now of the lovely Art Café and Cake Hole on Mersea Island) and I used to call this method “soubising”, I think "soubise" is a real word, possibly French and it’s even possible that it may have something to do with onions.  I’m not sure that it is used as a verb but to us it is a doing word related to onions.







And here are more dishes you can make or enhance with sweet, tender and possibly caramelised onions ...

Onion, White Wine & Parmesan Tagliatelle


Add these delicious onions to ...

Pan Sauces * Etc!

These onions are also the basis of my Super Flexible Soup Recipe.


jonathan-swift-onion-quote



I imagine Jonathan Swift hadn't tried my sweet melting onions but he is right in pricipal; onions should be fully cooked!
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