The incredibly shrinking, incredibly delicious caramelized onion

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On a cool, sunny autumn Sunday, after a long morning bike ride, the day’s chores and an afternoon walk out of the way, what could be better than caramelized onions? At least that’s what my wife thought. And so it began. I’ve written about these onions before, about their power to impart a deep, savory goodness to almost any dish. And I’ve written about how what initially seems like a mountain of onions gradually reduces to next to nothing.

But this time, I thought I’d document it. Here’s four pounds of onions peeled and lined up to be chopped.

Here they are in my ginormous 7-quart Dutch oven as they start cooking: just a little olive oil and salt.

After 30 minutes, they’re starting to shrink.

Here they are after an hour. See how much liquid has been extracted?


After an hour and a half, they’re just starting to brown.

And now the constant watching and stirring starts, at 1:45.

Finally, a little more than two hours after starting, the onions are almost there.

And here’s what four pounds of onions look like when they’re finally done cooking and are fully caramelized.

The reward? I took a spoonful and smeared it on pizza dough, then baked it with sliced mushrooms and goat cheese. Definitely worth it.


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