There are items that provide the fundamental backbone to cooking. They show up meal after meal with nary a remark, doing their job adding depth and complexity to the final product.
It is not often they are given a spotlight to shine. French onion soup, beef stroganoff, pissaladière – all opportunities to give the humble onion a moment in the sun. The rich caramelized flavors bring earthy depth and compexity to meals that stretch fall into winter.
For caramelized onions I work a bit backwards. The onion and shallot are julienned. The garlic is minced. The onion goes into the pan first, alone. After a few minutes the slices will have sweated and softened. Only then do I add the shallot and garlic. The added moisture protecting the smaller components from over exposure. The first few minutes of cooking for this dish require constant vigilance. It is here the base color is set. The pan is hot, hot, hot; a delicate balance is struck.
The pan should be deglazed with red wine and allowed to reduce. Once this has cooked down stock should be added to deglaze and repeat the process. Aromatics such as thyme, bay, rosemary, or mint can be added three quarters of the way through the dish. Keep an eye on things. Adjust the temperature, move you pan around if things are happening too fast for you – stay engaged.