When I was younger, my brother often times played the role of the gourmet chef in our kitchen at home. He was, and still is, a master at the stove, the barbecue and basically anything that involves heat coupled with fine ingredients that causes anyone's mouth to drool.
There was one dish, however, that I had a tough time getting past: his scrambled eggs. Why, you ask? He would add an ingredient to his version of the classic breakfast treat that - in my opinion - should not come near, or be an addition to, one of life's breakfast staples: onions.
I remember my reaction as I took my first bite of the fluffy, lightly yellow colored goodness that lay on my plate. It was sprinkled with freshly shredded cheddar cheese that added a bit of color and a sharp bite to the dish. And then came an added sharpness to the bite. No, it wasn't sharpness, it was more like a crunch. A crunch that came from small, translucent white cubes that were dispersed throughout my scrambled eggs. They were hard and released a flavor that seemed to burn the tiny hairs in my little nose. What in the world?, I thought as I maneuvered one of the crunchy pieces toward my lips with my tongue. Upon unveiling the little creature I realized that it was, sure enough, an onion. Not my cup of tea. I finished the remainder of the scrambled eggs, picking out the little flecks of white cubes in the process.
Fast forward to present day and I can't really tell you when my taste buds changed their minds, but I'm almost certain it had something to do with my first experience in cooking French Onion Soup. I continue to enjoy the flavors and harmony of textures, and especially the taste of the caramelized onions in the famed French soup. I adore onions now; sautéed, roasted, and my favorite, caramelized.
I've seen recipes that instruct caramelizing onions in various ways: some with red wine vinegar, herbs and salt and pepper, others with olive oil, butter and a splash of sugar. I've found it best to keep it simple with a basic combination of olive oil, kosher salt, white pepper (you can use black if you wish, but I'm beginning to incorporate white more and more into cooking) and onions. Some like to add sugar as they say it gives even more caramely goodness and a bit more of a crisp texture, but I could take it or leave it. The process of the onions caramelizing produces plenty of natural sugars itself.
Here's my recipe for my most favorite way to devour onions.
Yields 1 cup caramelized onions
2 1/2 tablespoons Olive oil
6 cups White onion, sliced crosswise in 1/4-inch half-moon slices
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon White pepper
In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat until the olive oil is warm, or projects a glistening, shiny look to it. Add in the sliced onions and stir around to coat them evenly with the olive oil. Add in the salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to medium and let the onions cook in the pan, stirring occasionally. You'll notice the onions begin to turn brown, which signals the caramelization. Continue to cook the onions, stirring occasionally so the slices don't burn, until the onions are cooked down and have turned a dark caramel-brown in color, about 25 minutes.
Caramelized onions are great served atop many delectable items like pizza or bruschetta, and can be mixed into soft cheeses like goat or cream cheese for use in a dip. My decision for how I would savor my caramelized onions today? Atop scrambled eggs in my breakfast sandwich.
Whole-wheat toast, goat cheese, scrambled eggs, caramelized onions and sprinkled with dill (I would have used chives, but was out. Use chives.)