Friday, February 5, 2010

Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions

french onion soup 116


I’m falling in love with my slow cooker.  We’ve known each other a long time but we’ve never really connected.  We keep giving each other a chance, meeting up every now and then.  All our friends think we’d be great together but until now, we just haven’t clicked.

Lots of relationships require a catalyst and for us it’s this cookbook.


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I picked it up at Costco the other day; if you look closely you can see  sticky notes marking recipes.  The first one that caught my eye was creamy onion soup.  Not for the soup so much as the hands-off way of caramelizing onions.

I love a good caramelized onion but I don’t have the patience to stir a pot for 30-40 minutes.  Mine usually  lack that satisfying deep brown hue that promises sweet and savory taste or worse, they burn.

My slow cooker, the book told me, could change all that.  It whispered sweet nothings about caramelizing onions to perfection while I spent the day playing.  Promises of tempting aromas and a pot of slow cooked onions beckoned  and before I knew it I’d sliced up 6 Vidalia onions. 

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I tossed them with dried thyme and olive oil and added a bay leaf.  This flurry of activity happened early in the morning and when we came home from an afternoon of beachcombing they looked like this:

french onion soup 115

I really love it when I can use up leftovers and make a fabulous meal at the same time.  I had broth from beef braised in red wine which I heated in a separate pan, I toasted cubes of French bread in olive oil, kosher salt and herbs de Provence then put them all together with a fistful of grated gruyere for a hearty and quick French Onion Soup.

The best part is that I have onions leftover for my next fabulous meal…blue cheese and caramelized onion tart?  Gourmet burgers? Veggie sandwich with caramelized onions or maybe goat cheese crostini with …you guessed it: caramelized onions.

My slow cooker and I are on again; we have plans to get together to make crème brulee next week.

While perfect for French Onion Soup these onions were quite wet.  A quick sauté in a hot pan will remove the excess liquid and make them perfect for just about anything.  Store in the fridge for a week or freeze them for up to three months.

Following is the recipe for Slow Cooked French Onion soup.  My soup was delicious but would be impossible to duplicate without making beef braised in red wine first and using that fabulous broth.  (The strength of any French onion soup is in the beef broth.  Amp up store bought with a bit of cognac or brandy for this recipe).

Creamy Onion Soup

From: Slow Cooker: The Best Cookbook Ever by Diane Phillips

½ cup unsalted butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

5 large sweet onions, such as Vidalia

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 bay leaf

½ cup white wine

5 cups beef stock

1 ½ cup shredded gruyere cheese

Turn a 5-7 quart slow cooker on high, add the butter and oil to the insert, cover until the butter is melted.

Remove the cover and add the onions, sugar, thyme, salt, pepper and bay leaf. Stir the onions until they are covered with seasonings and butter.

Cover and cook on high for 7-8 hours, until they are caramelized and a deep golden brown. (I followed the recipe to here).

Remove the cover and add the wine and beef stock. Cover and cook the soup on high for an additional 30 minutes or on low for an additional hour.

Remove bay leaf before serving garnish each serving with a sprinkling of gruyere cheese.


Tom Armitage said...

Really interesting. I've never used a slow-cooker. Don't even own one. But now I'm tempted. Thanks for helping open my mind to this.

El said...

I can't believe what a difference a slow cooker makes. Looks fantastic.