Let me just start by saying that Caramelized Onions are absolutely awesome!! Rob, who is a self-proclaimed onion hater, actually loves these and will eat them out of the pan by themselves! If that doesn’t say something I don’t know what does.
Caramelized onions were definitely a bit daunting and they do require a little bit of trial and error to get them right. I practiced a few times to get the technique down with my particular stove and cookware. That being said they never turned out bad, they tasted awesome but just weren’t 100%. These also do take a little bit of time to make so be prepared to be attached to the stove for a little while.
Another key trick is to cut the onion perpendicular to the root end. You end up with more uniform length pieces that have less pronounced curves. This over all results in more even cooking and better final shape.
What is so great about caramelized onions is what they do for the flavor of the onion. Honestly, I don’t blame Rob for not being a big fan of onions. They can definitely have a harsh taste when raw or not cooked fully. I know Rob also doesn’t like the crunch of onion sometimes in food (things like meatballs or meatloaf). Caramelizing the onion softens them up and makes the flavor super sweet. It’s such a unique flavor that goes so well with many different foods.
Using Caramelized Onions
We have used caramelized onions on crustini, pizza, burgers, over meat, and soup. They go really well with flavors like sharp cheese, rich meats, and a crisp white wine. They honestly work really well as a topping or garnish, but they can add so much flavor to a pan sauce.
The featured recipe here is a roasted pork chop with a caramelized onion-apple-cognac pan sauce. The sweetness of the caramelized onions plays well with the apples and the alcohol of the cognac just enhances all of the flavors. Overall, you get a lot of flavor that works so well with pork. In this form, it’s a perfect fall-winter meal, but with some minor changes this could easily be made with summery flavors.
Roasted Pork Chop with Caramelized Onion-Apple Pan Sauce
- 4 Bone-In Pork Chops About 3 pounds
- 3 Tbs Butter
- 2 Rosemary Sprigs
- 3 Garlic Cloves Smashed
- 1/4 Cup Cognac
- 1 Onion Sliced (instructions below)
- 1 Honeycrisp Apple Thinly Sliced
- 1/4 Cup Apple Cider
- 1 Tbs Dijon Mustard
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Cut the onions into slices by cutting perpendicular to the root (90 degrees from the normal cutting orientation that gives you the typical half moon). Separate the onion layers into individual pieces.
- In a skillet or saute pan, heat 1 Tbs butter over medium heat. Add the onion a handful at a time to avoid overcrowding the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes for each handful until all of the onion is in the pan. Season with a good pinch of salt once all of the onions are in.
- Cook for another 1-2 minutes and then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 25 minutes stirring approximately every 3-4 minutes or so. Add water or broth if needed during the cooking process to prevent burning.
- Look for a solid golden brown color.
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Heat a small amount of grapeseed (or other high smoke point oil) in a skillet over medium-high heat. Salt and Pepper the pork chops. Sear both side of the pork chops for 2 minutes.
- Add 2 tbs butter, the garlic, rosemary. Allow the butter to melt, baste the pork chops.
- Put the skillet in the oven and roast for 5-10 minutes interior temp should be about 160-165.
- Remove the pork chops and let rest. Pour the cognac into the skillet while still very hot to deglaze the pan. Turn the heat onto medium and add the cider, onions, mustard, and apples. Allow the sauce to reduce for about 5 minutes.