In the wake of this collective freeze on our social interaction, home cooking takes on a whole new meaning. Whether we like it or not, we’re holed up for the foreseeable future. But there is something we can do while we ride out this unprecedented time in history. We can cook.
We can cook for ourselves and we can cook for those who are unable. We can cook for our bunkmates and we can deliver meals for neighbors and the folks keeping the supermarket open and the firehouse running.
We can cook! Yes, we can. Even on a budget, even with limited skills or kitchen tools. Even if it’s been years since you chopped an onion or it’s your very first time. You can do it and I’m going to show you how.
So hello and welcome to Stay-Put Cooking.
Every day in this space, for as long as it's needed, I’ll share tips and tricks, recipes and ideas for cooking your way through these days of uncertainty. However, this is not a one-way street; I invite you to share your favorite ways of cooking up a quarantine, or a storm, or whatever you’re calling it. Send me an email, pretty please, and tell me what you’ve always wanted to learn or having a hankering for (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Stick around and belly up to the burner. This is gonna be fun.
Caramelized Onions, Debunked
So what are caramelized onions and why should I bother?
Let me explain:
1) Instead of frying onions at high heat which results in crispy charred ends, for caramelizing, we take a slower, gentler approach, coaxing the natural sugars out of the onion. As the onions cook, water evaporates and the onions start to shrink, soften and sweeten. Now you’ve got something more like onion jam, both sweet and savory, a killer condiment and flavor zipper upper if there ever was one.
2) Caramelized onions keep well for several days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Use them in grilled cheese sandwiches or tucked into a burrito, thrown into pasta, sidled up to grilled steak or on top of beans or rice.
3) P.S. The kitchen will smell heavenly.
What’s this half-moon business mentioned in the recipe?
The half-moon refers to a knife cut (also known as the crescent) that results in quick-cooking thinly sliced pieces. It comes in handy for sauteed zucchini and melty-thin potatoes, for starters. Check out my quick how-to video for details.
Amounts can be easily doubled or tripled.
Makes about ¾ cup.
3 tablespoons oil or butter
1 large onion (about 2 cups), sliced into half moons
In a 10- 12-inch skillet, melt the fat over medium heat and add the onions, turning with tongs until thoroughly coated. Cover and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes. Give the onions a good stir; they will have shrunk in volume by about one-third and softened quite a bit but still have a ways to go. Cook, uncovered, until the onions are collapsed and significantly reduced, bordering on the texture of jam. You can stop at 30 minutes or go as long as 45 minutes, as the flavor deepens with time. Be sure to stir regularly to keep the onions from burning.