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Caramelization is a chemical change that makes naturally occurring sugars in onions, when gently sautéed in butter, turn brown and quite flavorful. When sugar is heated to a sufficiently high temperature (320 degrees F +), it decomposes or "caramelizes." The melted substance is known as caramel. Its color changes first to yellow, then to brown, and it develops a distinctive and appealing flavor and aroma. One of the important products of sugar caramelization is an aromatic chemical, diacetyl, that provides a pronounced buttery aroma of cultured butter.
The best onions for caramelizing are the so-called "sweet" onion varieties:
- Vidalia (Georgia)
- Walla Walla (Washington)
- Sweet Imperial (California)
- Oso Sweet (Chile)
- Texas Sweet (Texas)
- Mayan Sweet (Mexico)
- Maui (Hawaii)
This technique is used with the Grilled Pizza Recipe - Three Variations
HOW TO TIPS:
1. Peel and slice your onion. Cut the onion in half and then lay the onion on the flat side and cut it into thin slices. Set aside.
2. Put the 2 teaspoons of olive oil into a large frying pan and add the sliced onions.
3. Sprinkle the onions with a small pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper.
4. Start the onions on high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to look translucent. You will now begin to caramelize the onions.
5. When the onions are translucent, turn the heat down to low and cook them, stirring, till they start to turn a lovely golden brown. This takes 10-15 minutes.
Do not let them go very long without stirring, or they will burn. Keep and eye on them! Once they burn, they do not taste good!
6. Remove the onions with tongs onto a plate to cool. Then, measure the amount needed for your recipe.