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From: Bryanna (
Subject:         To caramelize onions in a nonstick pan-- another method
Date: June 15, 2009 at 1:53 pm PST

In Reply to: Re: Low fat Caramelized Onions posted by Bryanna on June 15, 2009 at 1:26 pm:

Thinly slice 4 large onions (any kind). Pre-cook
them, so that they are softened before you start
browning them. This saves time, and ensures that
the onions will be thoroughly cooked inside, as well
as browned. I do this in a microwave oven, in a
glass casserole, covered, until they are thoroughly

To caramelize the onions, start heating a large
(11") heavy good-quality nonstick skillet, lightly
sprayed with oil from a pump-sprayer over high heat.

Add all of the pre-cooked thinly-sliced onions and
sprinkle liberally with salt. (The salt draws out
the liquid, causing the onions to soften as they

Start steam-frying them (see method below) on high
heat and immediately turn down to medium-high.

As soon as the natural sugar in the onions starts to
brown on the bottom and edges of the pan, add a
little liquid (just a tiny bit!) and scrape up the
brown bits, mixing them into the liquids and around
into the cooking onions.

(Some people like to add a little brown sugar at
this point-- it's up to you!)

Keep doing this until the onions are soft and brown,
being careful not to scorch them.

This can take about 20 minutes and you don't have to
stir continually, but you have to be around and keep
an eye on them! I do simple chores in the kitchen
while I do this.


You will often see the term "steam-fry" in my
recipes. Here is a description of what it is and how
to do it.

"Steam-fry" simply means sautéing without fat. To do
this, use a heavy skillet or stir-fry pan (use non-
stick, hard anodized aluminum, or cast iron), or a
well-seasoned wok,sprayed lightly with oil from a
pump sprayer, or with cooking spray.

Heat the pan over high heat, add the chopped onions
or other vegetables, and one or two tablespoons of
liquid (water, low-sodium vegetarian broth, or
wine), depending on the amount of vegetables. Do not
crowd the pan, or your vegetables will "stew". Cook
over high heat until the liquid starts to evaporate,
stirring with a spatula or wooden spoon. Keep
stirring until the vegetables are done to your
liking, adding JUST ENOUGH liquid to keep the
vegetables from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
You can stop when the veggies are soft, but not
brown, or you can keep on until they brown a bit.

TO "STEAM-FRY" IN THE MICROWAVE, use a glass dish,
such as a round 10" Pyrex casserole dish or pie
plate. Spray with oil from a pump sprayer or cooking
spray. Add the chopped onions, garlic, carrots,
celery, or whatever vegetables you want to sautè.
Cover the dish with a glass lid or microwavable
plate, and microwave 5 minutes, or however long it
takes to soften them. This method is convenient
because you don't have to watch the vegetables- you
can be preparing the rest of the recipe while they
cook. Just add the softened vegetables to the
recipe. (You can further brown them a bit in a
nonstick pan, if you wish-- it will go fast after
pre-cooking them.)

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