23 January 2009

Crockpot Caramelised Onions

Caramelising onions in the slow cooker eliminates the possibility of burning them that exists when you cook them on the stove top. An added bonus is the broth you end up with, which can be used in other dishes along with or separately from the onions. Use the onions and liquid to flavour soups, stocks, and stews. They make a wonderful addition to risotto, a perfect pasta sauce, and the world's best pizza topping (for this use you will have to drain off the liquid first). The onions can be served on their own as a vegetable to accompany fish, meat, or fowl. Cooking for a very long time insures they are a deep mahogany color.

My crockpot is one of the old ones that cooks slower. If you have one of the new pots that cooks hotter, you will need to adjust the cooking time.

Butter in the crockpot:

And now the onions are added. I used about 7 or 8 onions to just fill the crockpot.

Covered and cooked for about 10 hours.

Now they've cooked for about 15 hours on low. The crockpot that started out full to the brim with onions has now cooked down to a bit over half full.

The onions have now reached their lovely caramelised colour and are ready to be packaged for the freezer. I normally put them up in 1/2 cup packages for future use. I freeze the juice/broth separately to use in other dishes.

Crockpot Caramelised Onions
3 lbs Vidalia or other sweet onions (4-5 onions, 3-4” diameter)
8 Tbsp (1 stick) butter

Peel onions and cut into 1/8” thick to 1/4” thick slices. Place the onions and butter in the slow cooker, cover, and cook on LOW for 12-14 hours, or until the onions are deep brown and very soft. It's almost impossible to overcook these; make sure to let the onions cook until they are mahogany colored.

1. If you have a larger slow cooker, you can double the onions, but probably don't need to double the butter.
2. When you drain and chill the onions, the onion-flavored butter will congeal on the surface of the cooking liquid. Skim it and use it when you sauté other vegetables, over pasta, or in risotto.
3. I like to put these on in the evening and then they are ready in the morning.
4. At the end, I drain the onions, saving the juice. The onions get put up in 1/2 cup packages and put in the freezer for later use. The juice/broth is frozen separately in small containers.

Makes about 3½ cups.

ETA: Beginning with the crockpot filled to the top with raw onions, this batch wound up with 5 (1/2 cup) packages of caramelised onions for the freezer, along with 2 1/2 cups of broth.

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papa said...

Oh how lovely! I swear if onions were out-lawed I wouldn't be able to cook anything! Most people don't realise that in spite of their sometimes hotness that onions are basicaly sugar! Slow cooking onions really brings that sweetness to the front! Even when I sautee onions I do it slowly using large pieces and people are amazed at the taste! Onions are one our most misunderstood veggies!

Becky said...

Papa, you are so right. I could not cook without onions either. You know I am from Louisiana and we use a lot of onions down there. My uncle always said if you took a recipe from anywhere else and doubled the amount of onions, you'd tremendously improve the flavour of the dish. Not sure that is always true, but it did emphathise how much we used onions. My grandfather always had several large rows of onions in his garden. I'm hoping to be able to grow more this year myself.

RainbowDishes said...

EXCELLENT!!! I never thought of carmelizing onions in a crock pot. I love onions and use them in dish that I possibly can. But I adore caramelized onions even more. Just the other night I tried a caramelized onion and blue cheese pizza. I didn't care for the crust or the sauce (couldn't taste the sauce at all) so I think I am going to make my own version of this pizza. And I now know how I am going to cook the onions! :)

Becky said...

Craig, go for it. These are so easy. I love your idea of caramelised bleu cheese pizza. A few years ago I had a pizza with caramelised onion, gorgonzola, walnuts and figs on a thin, crisp crust that was wonderful. I should try to recreate that one. Thanks for the idea!

People who eat onions are much less likely to get respiratory infections. All of us should be very healthy!