I’ve been doing a lot of heavy cooking with the holidays, so I figured i would do something a little easier this week. I had the good fortune to see Evan and Leo this week and they gave half a loaf of their amazing rye bread. Whenever I get decent rye my thoughts immediately turn to chicken liver and I had some in my freezer. Along with my liver, caramelized onions are always a must. As I started thinking about it caramelized onions appear frequently in Ashkenazi food, and while we have often refered to them as an ingredient we have never shown how to prepare them. Caramelizing onions radically transforms the texture, flavor and appearance of onions with minimal effort through the amazing chemistry of a slow cooking process. They become soft, sweet and full of flavor. Once you have them on hand you will find infinite uses for them. Along with chopped liver, they are amazing addition, in place of sauteed onions, to kasha varnishka, kugel, pashtida, knishes or bialys. One of my most favorite uses is to spread some goat cheese on bread and top with caramelized onions, there are few snacks quite so satisfying.
Just to give mine an extra Jewey twist, I made them in schmaltz, but you can use any combination of butter, oil or other fat. Once you figure out the optimal heat settings the cooking time will be about 45 minutes, but plan on an hour for the first time you make them.
- 2 lb onions
- 2 TBs schmaltz
- 1 tsp salt
Heat schmaltz in skillet over high heat until melted. Add onions, sprinkle with salt and stir to coat; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to soften and release moisture, for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are deeply browned and slightly sticky, about 40 minutes longer. If onions are sizzling or burning, reduce heat. If onions are not browning after 15 to 20 minutes, raise the heat. They will keep in the refrigerator for about 1 week.