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Sauteeing onions and garlic

Ok, need a little help. Many, many recipes call for you to start with a tbsp or two of oil and then to cook onions (or shallots) and garlic for 5-7 minutes or so until the onions are "translucent" or some such description. Then you add other ingredients.

However, what always happens is that the garlic burns before the onions reach the proper consistency, adding a funky taste to the dish. Now, I solve it by adding the minced or sliced garlic only 1-2 minutes before the onions are finished, but I have to wonder if I'm doing something wrong as most recipes say to add them together but that never seems to work.

Any recommendations or ideas?

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  1. Try lowering the heat....or steam sauteeing the aromatics. You could also increase the amount of oil used.

    1. You're not doing anything wrong-garlic burns easily. If a recipe calls for sauteing onions and garlic simultaneously, it's wrong.
      Always start with the onions to get them going, then add the garlic.
      Sounds like you figured this out yourself!

      1. I often had that problem. I finally figured out that the garlic was going to a: burn and b: taste very bitter if I started them both together. (This only took most of my adult life to resolve!)

        So now, I always start the onions and get them to the stage they are supposed to be, translucent, brown, whatever. Only then do I add the garlic in. I stir it into the onions, and then start smelling my pan. Once I've smelled the garlic cooking for about 30 seconds, I move to the next phase of adding whatever ingredients come next.

        The garlic is perfect and never burnt or bitter with this method. It's also cooked, so it doesn't have that "raw" taste.

        1 Reply
        1. The thing to do is heat the oil then add the chopped onion before the chopped garlic. Let the onions sauté for 4 minutes over medium-high heat. Then add chopped garlic and sauté about 2 minutes...

          1 Reply
          1. re: Gio

            Yep-- either start the onion first, sautee at a very low temperature for a long time, or put the onions and the garlic in a food processor so the particles are the same size. Just make sure you pulse (turn on the food processor for a few seconds at a time) and keep an eye on it so you don't get liquefied onions.

          2. It isn't technically sauteing the onions. You're sweating them. It requires a lower temperature. Sauteing requires the temperature set at med high. Sweating requires medium or even a little lower.

            Anyway, you start with the chopped or sliced onions. When the onions are done, clear a space in the middle and add your minced or pressed garlic. If you sliced the garlic, you will want to add it earlier but I recommend minced or pressed. You only leave the garlic there for 30 - 40 seconds until you can smell the garlic. Stir the onions and garlic and go on to the next step in your recipe. Your onions will be translucent, Your garlic won't be burned but will add to the taste of the dish.