Balsamic Caramelized Onions
One of the easiest dishes I make is also one of the most savory and can be added to just about anything. Seriously. Use it as a topping to a meat dish. Put it with some fresh strawberries. Eat it on toast or by the forkful. Balsamic caramelized onions are a no-brainer when it comes to delicious foods. I’m not the type to like raw onions and in fact, unless they are cooked to translucency in a dish, they give me terrible heartburn. One of the reasons I saute onions and garlic before putting them in salsa or salad.
This dish only has a few ingredients and I’ve modified the original recipe to take less time. You can get balsamic vinegar at any store but try to go for one actually from Modena, Italy, the birthplace of balsamic vinegar. High quality ingredients for a dish are best, honestly, and don’t require that much for a recipe. Why not serve yourself and your family something good and not mediocre? I have a little collection of balsamic vinegars and as you can see, I like a certain brand. I may have an addiction.
For this recipe, I used crema, which is basically a reduction of the balsamic, slow-cooking the excess water out and leaving the essence as a thick, pungent creme. One of my favorite ways to use it is slicing an avocado, sprinkling garlic salt, EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and some of the crema over it. Perfect snack!
SCIENCE BREAK! Because of the fermentation process of a good balsamic, the concentrated sugar content can be high, so a little goes a long way. According to ‘On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen,’ cheap bottles are “nothing more than ordinary wine vinegar with caramel and sweetened with sugar.” A great traditional vinegar is aged at least 12 years and takes about 70 lb/36 kg of grapes to make 1 cup/250 ml. So hey, good wine is aged and so is a good balsamic vinegar!
The first step to this dish is slicing onions fairly thin and then separating them. The original recipe calls for all red or purple onions but I use one large red and a large shallot. Shallots have a milder, sweeter flavor and provide a richer bite. I sliced these between 1/4 and 1/8 of an inch. I’m working on my knife skills so I didn’t use my mandoline for cutting.
Using crema cuts down the cooking time by about 10 minutes because so much of the water content has already been removed and the caramelization is faster. They become this beautiful golden brown color and the longer they sit, the redder they get. I’ve burned my fingers a few times making this dish because I start dishing out the onion pieces to snack on while it’s cooking. Singed fingers for deliciousness? No worries!
These onions are especially yummy on meat of any kind but I can honestly eat them with a fork alone. I was a stuffed bunny for sure!