How to cook onions_ why recipe writers lie and lie about how long they take to caramelize

Browning onions is a matter of patience. Baked salmon fillet recipes My own patience ran out earlier this year while leafing through the New York Times food section. Baked salmon fillets recipes There, in the newspaper of record, was a recipe for savory scones with onions, currants, and caraway. Easy baked salmon fillet recipes Though I wasn’t particularly interested in making savory scones, one passage caught my eye:

“Add the onions to the skillet and increase the heat to medium-high.


Calories in baked salmon fillet Cook until they begin to turn dark brown and somewhat soft, about 5 minutes. How long do you bake salmon fillets Add the oil and a pinch of the fine sea salt; continue cooking until the onions are soft and caramelized, about 5 minutes longer.”

There is no other word for it. Onions do not caramelize in five or 10 minutes. How long to bake salmon fillets They never have, they never will—yet recipe writers have never stopped pretending that they will. How long do you cook salmon fillets I went on Twitter and said so, rudely, using CAPS LOCK. How to cook a salmon fillet A chorus of frustrated cooks responded in kind (“That’s on some bullshit. How to cook a fillet of salmon You want caramelized onions? Stir for 45 minutes”).

As long as I’ve been cooking, I’ve been reading various versions of this lie, over and over. How to cook salmon fillet in the oven Here’s Madhur Jaffrey, from her otherwise reliable Indian Cooking, explaining how to do the onions for rogan josh: “Stir and fry for about 5 minutes or until the onions turn a medium-brown colour.” The Boston Globe, on preparing pearl onions for coq au vin: “Add the onions and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until golden.” The Washington Post, on potato-green bean soup: “Add the onion and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.”

If you added all those cooking times together end to end, you still wouldn’t have caramelized onions. How long to cook a salmon fillet Here, telling the truth about how to prepare onions for French onion soup, is Julia Child: “[C]ook slowly until tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. How long to cook salmon fillet in oven Blend in the salt and sugar, raise heat to moderately high, and let the onions brown, stirring frequently until they are a dark walnut color, 25 to 30 minutes.” Ten minutes plus 25 to 30 minutes equals 35 to 40 minutes. How to cook a whole salmon fillet That is how long it takes to caramelize onions.

Telling the truth about caramelized onions would turn a lot of dinner-in-half-an-hour recipes into dinner-in-a-little-over-an-hour recipes. How to cook salmon steaks in the oven I emailed Sam Sifton, the Times food critic turned national editor, to ask if the Recipe Writing Guild had some secret agreement to print false estimates of onion-cooking time. How long to cook a salmon fillet in the oven He wrote back: “I can reveal that onion caramelization takes longer than the Guild believes. Best way to cook salmon fillets But it need not take as long as you believe it to take! You can speed it up with butter, so long as you are careful not to burn.”

Could onions be browned, at all, in 10 minutes? I embarked on a quest to find out. How to cook salmon fillet with skin Someone on Twitter had suggested things would go faster with sweet onions. How to cook salmon fillets in foil This seemed a little like pepping up a bread pudding recipe by treating sliced pound cake as a kind of bread. How long to bake salmon steaks But I bought a Tampico sweet onion, chopped half of it into tiny bits—only half, so as not to crowd the pan—and turned my biggest burner as high as it would go. How do you cook salmon fillets Butter seemed a little risky at that temperature, so I went with olive oil, in a cheap, lightweight nonstick skillet. How to cook salmon fillets in oven In five minutes, a few flecks of brown had appeared among the otherwise raw-looking onion bits. How to cook frozen salmon fillets After eight minutes, some of the onion had begun to take on the scorched aspect of the unfortunate onions stuck to bagels. How long to cook salmon fillets in oven At the 10-minute mark, the brown flecks had turned black, in a mince that was a mix of brown and still-pale bits. How to cook salmon fillet in oven The onion was done cooking—that is, it was beginning to be ruined—but it was not very well caramelized. How to cook salmon fillets in a pan At 11 minutes, I scraped an inedible mess out of the pan.

But the onion lies had not yet been fully refuted. How to cook salmon fillets Melissa Clark, the author of the Times’ scone recipe, claimed in a Diner’s Journal post that she relies on “a somewhat unusual technique,” one that “takes less than half the time of the traditional slow-cooked method of caramelization and makes for sweeter, more intensely flavored onions with a complex, chewy texture.” The secret, she writes, is starting the onions in a dry pan, and adding the oil later.

Note that half the time of the traditional method is still 20 minutes, not 10. How to cook frozen salmon fillets in the oven Nevertheless, I decided to follow her instructions to the letter. How to cook a salmon fillet in the oven I used a red onion, as Clark specified, “halved through the root and thinly sliced crosswise.” I started slicing it paper-thin. How long does salmon take to cook in the oven Not good enough? I got out the knife sharpener and touched up the edge on the cleaver. How to cook salmon without foil Now it was tissue-paper thin. How to cook salmon steaks in oven I heated the pan—dry—over a generously medium-high flame, then added the onions.

After five minutes—when according to Brown, it would “begin to turn dark brown and somewhat soft”—the onion was resolutely white and pink, and only slightly translucent. How to cook salmon on stove top I added the oil: one tablespoon, extra-virgin. How to cook smoked salmon fillet The white parts turned the color of extra-virgin olive oil.

At 10 minutes, when it was supposed to be done, the onion was translucent and soft, with only a tinge of gold. How long to cook salmon steaks Soon after, one golden speck appeared. How to grill salmon fillets By 15 minutes, the onion was even softer and more golden. How to cook baked salmon At 20 minutes, there were deep brown patches, and I was afraid they would scorch while I set down my spatula to take notes. How long to cook salmon fillet At 24 minutes, the risk of scorching forced me to lower the heat to medium. How long to cook baked salmon By 25 minutes, they were pretty well caramelized, and at 28 minutes they were as done as I’d want.

That is the deeper problem with all the deceit around the question of caramelized onions. How long does salmon take to cook in oven The premise is wrong. How long to cook salmon fillets The faster you try to do it, the more you waste your time. How to cook salmon fillets in the oven This isn’t some kitchen koan. How to cook salmon steaks in a frying pan It’s a practical fact. Salmon steak cooking time The 10-minute-cum-28-minute caramelized onion is all labor and anxiety. Salmon fillet cooking time Give yourself 45 or 50 minutes to brown onions, working slowly on a moderate flame, and it’s an untaxing background activity. How to prepare salmon steaks You can chop other vegetables, wash some pots, duck out to have a look at the ballgame on TV in the next room. Cooking a salmon fillet Keep half an eye on the pan. How to cook salmon without skin It will only need close tending toward the end.

In truth, the best time to caramelize onions is yesterday. Salmon oven cooking time Often enough, you need to have them ready before you can start on the rest of the dish. How to prepare salmon fillet Thus the recipe-writers’ impulse to deceive. Oven baked salmon with lemon Browning onions is slow work, and it comes first. Oven roasted salmon fillet So get a pan going after dinner, and they’ll be ready when you need them. Oven cook salmon fillet Or throw the onions in a crock pot and go to bed. How to cook salmon fillet in a pan In recipe time, that’s hours and hours. Oven baked salmon fillets In your time, the time that matters, it’s less than five minutes.

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