Food + Wine

Slow Cooked Caramelized Onions, and an apology to an appliance.

I am not a slow cooker person.  I have one and I’ve used it, but I
just haven’t fallen in love with it like I know a lot of people have.
There are people out there who swear by their slow cooker, their ‘crock
pot’, there are blogs on top of blogs dedicated, exclusively, to slow
cooker meals, and there are a lot of people that use them for most, if
not all, of their meals.  That’s awesome.  Good for them.  Seriously.
If someone is cooking their family dinner every night, instead of going
through a drive thru or reheating a frozen, plastic-sealed dinner, then I
don’t care how they do it.  The slow cooker is an amazing invention
that has helped out a lot of families over the years.  I just happen to
believe that most things I’ve tried to make in mine have come out

But recently I changed the way I

looked at my slow cooker.  I decided that maybe I don’t like my meals
cooked in a slow cooker, but I could still use it to make things that
are supposed to be soft, things that I normally would have to nurse and
stir and watch, and instead allow the slow cooker to do all the work for

Since this new outlook, I’ve made the most amazing
grits in my slow cooker.  I use the Quick Grits (a product I genuinely
believe in, as a Southern girl. Although, I do not believe in following
the package instructions for a ‘quick grit’ because, as a Southern girl,
I genuinely believe there is no such things as a ‘quick grit’.)  I use
the measurements listed on the package as my guide and throw the grits,
water, salt, and butter all in.  I turn it on low and usually in about 4
hours have amazingly creamy grits.  If I want to cook them all day or
overnight, I just add double the water and they will be even creamier.  I
do these grits when I’m making my Short Ribs or Pot Roast
for dinner and then as the meal is cooking in the oven, the grits can
now be doing the same in the slow cooker.  For my pot roast or short ribs, etc. I serve sour cream grits underneath so I just stir in the sour cream after the grits
are cooked, right before I’m ready to serve.  This has really helped me
out.  (If you’re a polenta person, the same method applies…)

also think using the slow cooker to make stocks is an OK thing to do…just
add your bones, veg, seasoning, water, etc. and cook it low and slow for
as long as you can and when it tastes good, it’s done…

The slow cooker is a great tool to use to keep things like soups warm, hot chocolate, cider, things of that nature…

I would imagine it could make a decent casserole as well, since casseroles are usually on the mushy side anyway…

yes, there are plenty of good things the slow cooker can do, and once I
figured out how I preferred it to work for me, I’ve gotten along a lot
easier with mine.

But the most recent use I’ve
found for my slow cooker has been to caramelize onions.  I love an onion
caramelized.  It happens to be my most favorite way to eat the onion.  And I have
figured out a way to put caramelized onions on just about anything…burgers, more burgers, steaks, pork tenderloin, pizzas, pizzas, and more pizzas, and who could forget the ultimate use for the caramelized onion:  The French Onion Soup.
I could eat a bowl of caramelized onions for lunch and be happy.  (Is
that weird? Probably.)  But the other day when I had a lunch to cater,
being crazed with 99 other things on my plate, I thought that I would
use my slow cooker to cook my onions for the Beefy French Dip Melts I
was serving.  The night before, I put my ingredients into the slow
cooker and the next morning woke up to the house smelling amazing and my
onions being perfectly caramelized!!  And the best part?  I didn’t stir
a thing, didn’t watch a thing, I just dumped and left.  Awesome!!  I now understand this very popular appliance and vow to now dust it off more often.

Now will you excuse me while I apologize to my crock pot.

*Slow Cooker-ed Caramelized Onions

isn’t an exact recipe, so adjust the measurements to fit whatever you
need them for.  And caramelized onions can keep for up to a week, stored
airtight in the fridge.)

-Slice your onions and throw them in the slow cooker, season well with salt, pepper, a bit of brown sugar and a pinch of allspice.
(I always add sugar to my onions because I like how it plays up the
natural sweetness of an onion, and I just love the flavor that allspice
brings to them.  But you can omit both if you’d rather.)

-Add some olive oil and/or butter for both flavor and as an anti-sticking agent.

-Add a good splash of wine,
(no more than 1/2 cup) white is what I usually use but red could work
depending on what you’re using them for.  You could also use stock, or
even water if you’d rather, just a little bit of liquid to ensure that
your onions don’t burn.

-Set the slow cooker to low and
cook for 8-10 hours.  They will likely be done in less time, but as
long as you added some fat and some liquid, they won’t be in any danger
cooking for longer.

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