Ohhhh caramelized onions. Such a simple and perfect addition to so many dishes, and yet, most people don't make them at home. It makes sense...even though caramelizing onions is very straightforward, it does take some understanding of how caramelization works to make them perfectly.
When we're talking about the caramelizing of onions, we're actually using the wrong terminology...caramelization is its own browning process that deals only with sugars. In the case of onions, we're dealing with a different browning process, called the Maillard reaction. In very VERY basic terms, this chemical reaction happens when heat is applied to proteins, turning them into sugars, and browning in the process. The Maillard reaction is the basis of many favorite flavors and foods: the golden crust sear on meat, the crusts on breads, brown butter, and more.
I'll let you dive deeper into the Maillard reaction if you want to know more, but for now, know that it's basically what makes delicious things, well, more delicious. Just like adding truffle oil to an already tasty dish, which is what you should do the next time you caramelize some onions.
TRUFFLE CARAMELIZED ONIONS
1 each large yellow onion
1 Tbs The Truffleist truffle oil
½ Tbs unsalted butter
pinch kosher salt
Slice the onion very thinly, no more that ¼ inch thick.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat the truffle oil and butter together over medium heat until the butter foams. Add in the onions, and toss to coat in fat.
Sauté the onions, stirring occasionally and making sure they don’t burn, until soft, then add the pinch of salt. Continue to sauté the onions, allowing them to become golden, and keep stirring often to spread the caramelization through the onions.
When the onions look dry, add a tablespoon of warm water, and carry on sautéing. Your onions could take quite a lot of water, so keep adding a tablespoon at a time if needed.
Onions are done when they are soft and golden. Serve on everything.