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Uses for Carmelized onions

Hi Chowhound folks! I'm new and very pleased to join this community! I'm so impressed with everyone's wealth of knowledge and ideas... I will do my best to be a good contributor, but for now I'd like to reach out to you guys for some ideas...
Got a great price on sweet onions at the farmers market and I wanna make a big batch of carmelized onions to use as well as freeze in small portions for future use...
Besides topping a crostini, how can I use these? I imagine they'll be great for weeknight cooking!
Also, should I freeze them with fresh herbs added or will that deteriorate the flavor?

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  1. Use them on a bed of salad leaves with some diced blue cheese for a starter; they also pair well with toasted goat's cheese or fried breaded camembert or brie (bit of a cheese theme developing here!) or alternatively if you have a sheet of puff pastry you can spread the onions over, top with anchovies and green olives and bake. This makes a very sophisticated snack lunch or supper.

    1. First, welcome to Chowhound.

      As to caramelized onions, it's an oldie but a favorite topic. Here are some prior suggestions you might want to peruse. http://www.chow.com/search?query=%22c...

      After you've taken a look around, let us know if you have other comments, suggestions, questions, etc.


      1. If you feel like baking, they're great on pissaladiere with oven-dried tomatoes, basil, and your cheese(s) of choice (I also like kalamata olives with this, but that's not something everyone will want).

        If you don't feel like baking, you can use them as a component of antipasto. Good idea to make a whole batch at once, as it takes a while for onions to caramelize.

        I've never frozen them. I think they'll keep for several days in the fridge, though.

        I find them almost too thick and sweet sometimes, so I'll cut that by sprinkling just a little bit of good balsamic vinegar on them.

        And of course, you can make French onion soup.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Jay F

          Thanks those are great ideas! They freeze beautifully and for convenience I'm freezing them in lined muffin tins and ice cube trays.
          And I have frozen homemade beef stock on hand so I'll get right on that soup! Heh

        2. Welcome to chowhound! I love carmelized onions on sandwiches. A simple but tasty sandwich: on sourdough, spread some mayo mixed with horseradish and dijon. Add carmelized onions, sharp cheddar cheese and deli roast beef. Put a tiny bit of softened butter on the outside of the bread and cook in a panini press or a heavy skillet with a heavy pan on top to press the sandwich. If you prefer to keep the roast beef pink, cook the sandwich without the beef until the outside is nicely browned and the cheese is melted. Open it and put the beef in.

          1. I love them on top of a bacon cheeseburger or mixed in with a baked macaroni and cheese. They're also great in quiche, or really any type of casserole. I also love them in a egg scramble or on a bistro style pizza. You could also mix them with some blue cheese and toss it on a steak, or into a salad.

            1 Reply
            1. re: AmandaCA

              Why didn't I think of casserole! Lol I'm on a frittatas kick so that's perfect!

            2. On pizza crust! Carmelized onion, crumbled blue cheese, chicken and fresh rosemary makes a fantastic topping for pizza crust - I do it without tomato sauce, just a smear of olive oil.

              I also love doing carmelized onions and adding a good splash of sherry late in the cooking, cooking the liquid off. This goes well with chicken and blue or goat's cheese over pasta.

              1. welcome the CH.

                couple of thoughts as well. place them in rounds on a cookie sheet and freeze, then wrap and place in a freezer bag for a topping for cheeseburgers. jfood does this all the time. BTW - mark the bag so people do not think they are chocolate chip cookies.

                another idea is a large quantity and thenyou can add to some boxed beef brotth and some crouton and gruyere and poof, some onion soup.

                now be careful about the method to caramelize the onions because that is a heated debate on these boards. jfood falls into the 3 hour category for the best way to go.

                2 Replies
                1. re: jfood

                  I saw that lol. My crock pot and I have a very special relationship... But there are some things she just can't do. I can do these on my stovetop just fine thank you!

                  1. re: jfood

                    It is my knowledge that caramelized onions can be produced in 45 minutes.

                  2. They are magical in rice and lentils/mujadarah

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: scubadoo97

                      Oh, yes. Magical! One of our favorite foods, and perfect for a mixed veggie/omnivore family. Satisfies everyone.

                    2. Blend them with some feta and some cream cheese for a delightful dip with veggies or pretzels, or drop spoonfuls of the mixture in those mini pastry shells and bake until heated through for an appetizer.

                      1. I just used some that I made using jfood's 3 hr method in meatloaf. That was fantastic. I also made mini-meatloaves by baking in a cupcake tin. Doubly awesome.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Jen76

                          nice idea...glad they worked for you.

                        2. Used as a sauce (with wine) for pork or chicken or as a jam (with rum) to spread on crackers or a cream cheese sandwich.

                          1. As you will see if you read some of the other threads on caramelized onions, or read Cook's Illustrated and other respected recipes, most people consider sweet onions to be the worst choice for caramelizing, yellow the best. Caramelizing mellows out some of the bite/piquancy of yellow onions as their sugars undergo the Maillard reaction. Sweet onions lack that bite to begin with, so they become both one-dimensional and overly sweet. You will definitely need some balsamic or wine vinegar toward the end, to partially correct this problem.

                            Also, slice them from pole to pole, not crosswise. Prolonged cooking can disintegrate latitudinal slices, but longitudinal ones remain intact longer and better.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: greygarious

                              Thanks for the tip! I have one massive sweet onion and about a pound of cheapie yellow onions... I usually use a variety of onions mixed together... I really don't know what else to do with this gigantic onion and might need to start another thread!
                              And I have found slicing onions that way to be better too for slow-cooking like this! Especially for soup... I hate the big hot rings of onion hitting my chin!

                            2. a very easy tart to make is puff paste (trim the sides and stack them on top to make an edge), carmelized onions, goat cheese and fig preserves, with a little fresh thyme. It makes a great side dish with beef.

                              1. Love them in omelettes. Also have a recipe for wild and brown rice with dried cranberries and caramelized onions that is out of this world during the holidays.

                                1. Caramelized onions are easily added to almost anything...an omelet, frittata, or strata, or with scrambled eggs and home fries. Grilled cheese sandwiches, BLTs, burgers, thrown into pasta, potato, or leafy salads. Stuffings, gratins, casseroles, savory tarts, sprinkle them on bruschetta, focaccia, pizza. Spiff up baked and mashed potatoes, or rice, risotto, and polenta. Finally, caramelized onions with apples and cheese for dessert.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: observor

                                    I have to agree with observor. I have yet to find any dish that could use onions that wouldn't love the caramelized ones more. My favorite recipe is from Paula Wolfert......it involves 2 pounds of onions and takes so long we always do four pounds...I don't worry about which kind of onions and how you slice them, you can puree and freeze....this is a super flavor boost that can easily be hidden....if you want them as a visual enticement, then, which and how you slice would matter. Chop. slice, whatever you want to with the onions, you'll be pureeing later, cook covered with 1/3 cup of olive oil and 2 tbs water, 1 tsp salt per 2 pounds of onions, covered, for a while (less than 30 minutes) then put in a heated oven.... 350 or so, for up to 3 hours. Yes, three hours, that's why you want to cook pounds of onions here. You have to stir often,....we use the convection feature....reduces the time a lot....you will have an amazingly very small amount of hugely flavorful onions. A little goes a long way.

                                  2. Welcome. I agree with a lot from above. I alway do four to six pounds and then freeze them. I cook them in the oven at three fifty with some oil, and let it go for several hours. I mix them once or twice. I find if I sautee them on the stove they tend to burn and I have to watch them all the time. I freeze them all the time.
                                    Sauteed onions go in everything. I like to add them to my rice, kasha with other noodles nuts or veggies. I add them to my meatballs, this way they have great flavor, raw onions just don't cook down enough. You can add them to anything, and it's nice to have on hand.

                                    1. Just made a batch for dinner tonight - I added some chopped tomatoes towards the end of the cooking process and served it all over provolone polenta with some seared scallops on top.

                                      2 Replies
                                        1. re: mom22tots

                                          Nothing too special, i'm afraid - just stirred some thin slices of provolone into the polenta once it was done!

                                      1. French onion soup! A friend gave me this recipe for the absolute best FOS I have ever had, better than any restaurant:

                                        Olive oil
                                        6 onions, coarsely chopped

                                        3-4 sections of fresh garlic, peeled and pressed
                                        1 box all natural UNSALTED beef stock (be sure it's stock, not broth; SuperTarget carries an all natural unsalted one called something like Kitchen Basics)
                                        1 Tbsp Better Than Beef base (this kicks up the beef flavor and it is where your salt will come from; if your beef stock also is salted, the whole soup will be too salty)
                                        1-2 tsp dried thyme
                                        1-2 splashes cooking sherry, depending on your taste ;)

                                        Thick sliced French bread
                                        Olive oil
                                        Sliced gruyere cheese
                                        Grated parmesan

                                        Caramelize the onions in olive oil, by heating on med-low heat for 1 hour. For the last 15 minutes, add pressed fresh garlic. When onions are done, deglaze the pot/pan with the sherry and let cook for a minute. Add the rest of the soup ingredients, and simmer very low for at least 20 minutes for flavors to blend (this soup will actually be better the second day).

                                        While soup is simmering, brush French bread slices with olive oil and toast in pre-heated oven at 400 for 8-10 minutes until lightly brown. Pour soup into soup crocks. Add croutons, top with gruyere and parmesan (overflowing the crock, restaurant-style), and bake/broil until cheese is bubbly and brown.

                                        1. I caramelize onions in a touch of olive oil and some coarse salt. When they start to turn golden, I add in slices of fennel bulb and sprinkle a tiny pinch of sugar over it. If it needs moisture as it is cooking, I use chicken broth.

                                          When it smells luscious and is brown and soft, I add a bit of sweet white vermouth (Cinzano Bianco), some coarse ground pepper, and Moroccan dry-cured black olives. I cook it a little more to incorporate the alcohol and the olives and then, voilĂ !

                                          We use these on sandwiches. They are mouthwatering. And sometimes I add a couple of garlic cloves, depending on how the flavors are marrying. I keep them in the refrigerator for up to 10 days...not sure how I'd like the flavors after freezing.

                                          1. they're great pureed into mashed potatoes or pureed cauliflower (with some roasted garlic).

                                            great used in salmon croquettes

                                            salad with poached/fried egg - layer fresh spinach, warm caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms, and top with poached/fried egg, finish with herbs (thyme, tarragon, parsley, or rosemary...)

                                            1. Ina Garten's pan-fried onion dip uses carmelized onion... it's an amazing dip.


                                              1. caramelized onion dip. Thats one of my favorite things to do with the onions. I usually used a mixture of sourcream and mayo, salt and pepper, maybe a clove or two of garlic and your done. One of the best dips I've ever tasted. YUMMM. I just made a batch yesterday.