Have you ever heard of white balsamic vinegar? I never had until one of our dear friends mentioned it. Intrigued, we bought a bottle, and ever since, we have enjoyed it simply as an oil-and-vinegar drizzle over salad. I noticed that many people like to use regular balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan for caramelized onions, and thought I’d try the white balsamic instead. It doesn’t affect the color of the onions, but adds a faint tartness to the onions that is quite pleasant. Plus, it helps get off that delicious fond from the bottom of the pan!
Like me, you’re probably wondering what “fond” and “deglaze” mean. Fond is a French term that means “base,” referring to the golden brown, stuck-on residue on the bottom of the pan from cooking meat or vegetables. Most of the time, I would consider this stuck-on stuff as a bad thing, but it actually adds a richer flavor to the dish when incorporated back into it. That’s where deglazing come into play: it helps us remove–and enjoy–the fond. To deglaze the pan, pour in a few tablespoons or 1/4 cup of liquid and scrape off the fond with a metal flipper. You can use any liquid that best suits your recipe: chicken stock, vinegar, water, tomato juice, and more. Actually, the fond is the basis for French pan sauces and adds a great flavor to the dish. Try it–soon you’ll be fond of the fond. 😉
Caramelized onions might sound intimidating, but actually, they’re really easy! Just make sure to be attentive to them while they cook to make sure they don’t get crispy or burnt. They should be very soft and a rich caramel color when they’re done. Be patient: it takes time. They make an excellent side dish for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or a weekend dinner. Try spooning them over buttermilk whipped potatoes or on slices of roasted turkey. Yum!Print
This is a super-easy recipe for delicious, sweet caramelized onions with a little twist: a splash of white balsamic vinegar.
- 4 large yellow onions
- 2-3 Tbsp. salted butter
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 10 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 dried bay leaf
- Sprinkle of fine salt
- 2 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
Preparing the Onions & Herbs
- Chop off the ends of each onion and peel off the skin.
- Cut each onion in half, then cut each half into strips.
- Rinse and pat dry the fresh herbs. Remove the leaves from the rosemary and thyme sprigs by sliding your fingers down the stems against the “grain” of the leaves. The leaves should come off easily.
Cooking the Onions
- In a large, deep skillet, melt 2 Tbsp. butter over medium heat.
- Once the skillet is heated up and the butter is melted, add the onions and spices and stir well.
- Continue to cook over medium heat for about 60 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding another tablespoon of butter if desired. Turn the heat down a little if the onions start to get crispy on the edges or burn. The onions should be a rich caramel color when they’re done.
- Once a fond (golden brown stuck-on residue) has formed on the bottom of the pan, add the white balsamic vinegar and scrape off the fond with a metal flipper. This is called deglazing the pan.
- Serve immediately and garnish with a sprig of rosemary.
Use either a heavy-based stainless steel frying pan or a cast iron skillet to make caramelized onions. Non-stick pans don’t work as well, and can flake off their coatings when you scrape off the fond.