Sunday, June 6, 2010

Caramelized Onions

NYC is a city full of gourmet burgers and burger snobs.  There is the Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern - a $26 La Frieda burger (made from a mix of dry-aged ribeye, brisket, and skirt steak) that is drizzled with clarified butter and topped with caramelized onions.  Then there are various other burgers that are less expensive, but are equally popular - like the Shack Stack at Shake Shack (a cheeseburger topped with a fried, cheese-stuffed portobello mushroom cap) and the burger at Spotted Pig (topped with Roquefort cheese and served with some of the best shoestring fries I have ever tasted).  And for those of us who want to cook fancy burgers at home, there are Wagyu (American Kobe beef) burger patties for sale at Fairway, and you can buy several different La Frieda burger blends online at Fresh Direct.  Also, some butchers have their own burger patties made with skirt steak, short rib, etc.  For these burgers I picked up some fancy burger patties from our local butcher, as well as some TomCat Bakery brioche burger buns and some aged extra-sharp cheddar.  Yum.  When you have burgers and buns this nice, you really need very little embellishment to make them delicious.  One of my favorite toppings for burgers at the moment is a healthy dollop of caramelized onions.  Don't get me wrong - kimchi and Korean BBQ sauce make for a mean burger, as does fresh prosciutto, mozzarella and basil, but if you're going for a more standard cheeseburger then caramelized onions are definitely the way to go.

I took this recipe from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics cookbook.  I liked that these caramelized onions didn't call for the addition of sugar (unlike some other recipes I have used in the past).  I wanted our onions to be both sweet and savory, rather than the overly sweet caramelized onions that can result with the addition of too much sugar.  I was also intrigued by the addition of sherry vinegar and fresh thyme in her recipe.  If you're looking for onions the consistency and sweetness of a chutney, these aren't your caramelized onions, but if you're looking for a nice, unique burger topping then by all means give them a shot.

Recipe after the jump!

Caramelized Onions
Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics: Fabulous Flavor from Simple Ingredients
By Ina Garten

2 tbsp evoo
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 lbs. yellow onions, peeled and sliced in half-rounds
1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Heat evoo and butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add onions and thyme, and toss with the oil.  Place the lid on the saucepan.  Sweat onions for about 10 minutes.  Remove the lid, and continue the cook onions over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are caramelized and a deep golden brown, about 25-30 minutes.  Add vinegar, salt, and pepper.  Stir to combine.  Cook onions for 2 more minutes, scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.


  1. I am loving the Talavera plates. Wedding present?

  2. Absolutely! My friend Kelly got them for me and I love them. They are gorgeous, plus they are melamine so I can't break them.