Opinion Column

Try making caramelized onions in slow cooker

Don Houston of Hearty Fare

By Don Houston

Don Houston

Don Houston

Last week I gave you a recipe for superior beef stock for soup – an item you make in larger quantities and store canned or frozen to use as you need it.

This week follows the same pattern with two items to make and store. Eventually this will end in a recipe for French onion soup.

Previously I had made caramelized onions in a skillet. It takes about 30 minutes, but you need to be constantly stirring and being careful not to burn. I was talking to a customer about a great bowl of onion soup I had on vacation and divulged my plan to make some. She told me about making caramelized onions in a slow cooker. The results are amazing. No stirring, no danger of burning. I am going to try to make some brown butter in a slow cooker but I have not got there yet. For the caramelized onions you can use Vidalia or sweet Spanish but regular cooking onions are fine. For larger onions I cut the slices in half moons about 1/4” thick. Smaller ones can be full slice. The onions reduce by a factor of 4:1 Using the brown butter will give you a little more colour and flavour. The French call brown butter “Buerre Noisette,” literally “Hazelnut butter.”

Once you start to use brown butter you will get hooked; so beware!



16 Cups Sliced onions

1/4 Cup Brown Butter

1 Tsp. Sea salt


Place onions in slow cooker – it will need to be 2/3 full; pour melted butter and salt over onions, then toss. Cook for approx 8-10 hours on low. You should have approximately four cups of caramelized onions and some liquid. Save the liquid for adding to stocks etc. The onions can be held in a refrigerator for several days or you can divide them into useable portions and freeze in airtight bags for soups, stews, etc.

Brown Butter

1-2 lbs. Unsalted butter


Use a heavy bottom pot that is shiny or has white enamel interior; you need to be able to see the butter turning colour. Cut butter into 1 “ chunks and heat on Med-low for about five minutes. The butter should start to foam. From this point on you need to be constantly stirring, watching the colour change and noting the aroma. When the colour is golden brown and has the aroma of hazelnuts, decant it into a heat proof bowl leaving the browned bits in the pot. After it has cooled a bit you can strain it into moulds or storage containers. It will set like uncooked butter.

As you improve your cooking techniques you can try for darker brown butter; but beware the difference between brown and burnt is a few seconds.

Brown butter adds extra flavour to sauces and baking.

If you need any information on Free Run Chickens, Black Angus Beef, Mennonite Sausage/bacon/pork/poultry, local Ontario Lamb, Home-made and Naturally raised or grown products, recipes you would like to see, or food items you can’t locate, visit our Farm Market 3232 Burnham St. N. Camborne. Open Wed to Sunday(see ad in Thursday’s Northumberland Today classified section) or e-mail me at houstonbakery@airnet.ca Visit the web @www.houstonsnaturalmeats.ca.