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Browning Onions in Le Creuset

Kulfi Jan 24, 2013 08:33 AM

I can't get onions to brown evenly when using the LC braiser and DO. Some bits burn and others remain undercooked even if I continually stir them. I get uniform browning when I use my Kirkland SS saute pan. I do preheat both pans before adding the onions. So how can I get better results in my LC? Thanks for reading my first post.

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  1. paulj RE: Kulfi Jan 24, 2013 08:53 AM

    Do you need to use the LC for the onions? Your SS pan probably has several layers of metal, and heats more evenly than the LC (which is enamel cast iron).

    Browning onions well takes time. Any benefit from preheating has disappeared by the time they are done. I'm not even sure the preheating helps at the start. Browning only starts when most of the onion moisture has been driven off.

    When do the onions start to burn? If early then the pan is too hot.

    1. kaleokahu RE: Kulfi Jan 24, 2013 09:20 AM

      Hi, Kulfi:

      Are you talking about caramelizing your onions?

      IMO, doing this in CI on the stovetop is a recipe for disaster--if you don't stir constantly they scorch, and if you do, they eventually go to mush. The only way around this using your LC is to caramelize in the oven.

      This is the classic example of how poor a material CI is for stovetop use. Unless you have a dead-even hob (e.g., a French placque), what you experienced happens a lot--unevenly browned steaks, pancakes, etc. The best you can hope for is to limit the size of the pan's footprint to the size of your hob.

      You cooking on gas or electric?


      3 Replies
      1. re: kaleokahu
        Kulfi RE: kaleokahu Jan 24, 2013 09:34 AM

        Actually, I have this problem when I try to brown onions for about 20 minutes, which is not long enough to caramelize them.

        I use my largest 17000 btu gas burner at medium heat for browning onions in LC. Since some bits get burnt, I'm afraid to crank up the heat any higher. But the lack of uniform browning is disappointing.

        I recently invested in some LC pieces and am trying to get the hang of this cookware.

        1. re: Kulfi
          kaleokahu RE: Kulfi Jan 24, 2013 10:43 AM

          Hi, Kulfi: "I recently invested in some LC pieces and am trying to get the hang of this cookware."

          LOL, I invested in a LOT of LC, and have been trying to get the hang of it for >20 years. With respect, you might consider quitting while you're just a little bit behind.


          1. re: kaleokahu
            Jay F RE: kaleokahu Jan 24, 2013 10:44 AM

            He's even made me wonder.

      2. Chemicalkinetics RE: Kulfi Jan 24, 2013 09:24 AM

        Your SS saute pan is most likely cladded with aluminum which means it will heat up faster and more evenly than your Le Creuset. I don't think you can get better result on your LC than your SS saute pan. You may able to improve your LC by putting an aluminum disk underneath, but this is really cumbersome and will slow down the process. You are already stirring, so you are already doing what you can.

        I think you have already found the easier solution -- which is to use your saute pan.

        1. m
          mikie RE: Kulfi Jan 24, 2013 01:17 PM

          I'm always looking for the easy way out, so I brown the onions for my French Onion soup in my 5.5 qt Staub (enameled cast iron same as your LC). Maybe it's the black interior, but I don't seem to have problems with the Staub. I too preheat it on medium and then turn it up a bit, it takes some time, but they seem to come out evenly browned. I don't know that I'm doing anything special to get these results, but this way I don't have to wash a sauté pan.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mikie
            Kulfi RE: mikie Jan 24, 2013 01:23 PM

            That's interesting about the Staub.

            Like you, I don't want to saute onions in SS, and then transfer them to an LC when I'm trying to make one-pot meals.

          2. e
            escondido123 RE: Kulfi Jan 25, 2013 12:41 PM

            I always start by adding a little water and salt andputting on the lid until the onions begin to soften, that way more of their surface is touching the bottom when you add the oil and begin to caramelize. I also use a bacon press or flat lid to press the onions against the bottom of the pan--really speeds up the process.

            1. C. Hamster RE: Kulfi Jan 25, 2013 06:29 PM

              I have never had any problems evenly cartelizing onions in any of my LC french ovens. Over 20 years.

              1 Reply
              1. re: C. Hamster
                kaleokahu RE: C. Hamster Jan 25, 2013 09:02 PM

                Then I could have used your stove, What is it? Gas or electric?

              2. r
                redstickboy RE: Kulfi Feb 2, 2013 06:41 AM

                I came late to the discussion but hope you see this.
                Read the recipe for "Best French Onion Soup" at the Cook's Illustrated web site. It shows the best way ever to carmalize onions. They do it in the oven! It takes about 2-1/2 hours but you don't ahve to constantly stir them.

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