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Question about cooking with onions

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I have always noticed in videos that it is recommended to sweat onions off for a while first before adding anything else

However, it always seems to turn into a complete mess for me.

For instance yesterday I was cooking a chicken breast and let my onions simmer on med-low for a while then turned the heat up and put the chicken in

By the time the chicken was done the onions were completely black/burned and my oil was nasty looking as well. The burnt onion also made the breast look kinda ugly to me

Would there be any problem with throwing the minced onions in towards the end like garlic? 

One solution I found is to dice the onion so finely that it dissolves in the oil after a minute or 2 on high, but sometimes I am not in the mood aka too lazy to really dice the onion that finely so i just give give it a quick dice and throw them in

post #2 of 9
Thread Starter 

oh and also, is it possible they are burning like that because I'm not using enough oil?

post #3 of 9

What are you trying to achieve? 

 

Onions are usually sweated, then other ingredients added that will protect the onion from over cooking, often including liquids.

 

For a seared/sauteed chicken breast, this is usually done with only chicken in the pan. While the chicken is resting after cooking, you might build a pan sauce with onions. 

 

In a stir fry, the chicken is usually cooked first, removed, then onions cooked, then everything combined and sauced. 

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #4 of 9

They're burning from being cooked too long. 

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by phatch View Post
 

What are you trying to achieve? 

 

Onions are usually sweated, then other ingredients added that will protect the onion from over cooking, often including liquids.

 

For a seared/sauteed chicken breast, this is usually done with only chicken in the pan. While the chicken is resting after cooking, you might build a pan sauce with onions. 

 

In a stir fry, the chicken is usually cooked first, removed, then onions cooked, then everything combined and sauced. 

thanks for the reply

i am mainly just adding them to flavor the chicken.

like i might just season with salt/pep and cook the breast with some onion/garlic/smoked paprika

is it not a good idea to try to cook onion WITH the meat for flavor?

 

post #6 of 9

Within limits, it's a fine idea. But onions can't cook as long as you've been trying and discovered. 

 

You should probably add the onions when you turn the chicken. If they need more time to get your desired doneness, they can finish while the chicken rests out of the pan.

 

But, you might try some other oddball things. White Castle steam grills their burgers over chopped onion. The patty is small and thin and cooks quickly while the onions become tasty in the rendered fat and cook. while infusing the patty with onion flavor.  Both are then put in the bun and enjoyed. 

 

Slice the chicken breast thinly into paillards. Here's one method, but there are other methods for different sized results.

 

 

Chop your onion, season the chicken breast with salt and pepper. Heat your skillet over medium high heat. When hot, Add a little oil to the pan, swirl to coat. Add the onion, season quickly with salt and pepper as desired. Lay the season paillard on top. Cover with a lid. Should cook in a few minutes. No turning or fussing, will have steamed in onion scent. Wont' have the crustiness of a sear, but it should be good in its own right. 

 

Or, another technique is to build an onion gravy for service as in the classic smothered pork chop. Just substitute your chicken breast. 

 

http://americanfood.about.com/od/porkrecipes/r/Smothered_Pork_Chops.htm

 

Or you might try an onion powder based rub or just plain onion salt instead of regular salt in seasoning your chicken breast. 

 

Just some other ideas on infusing onion flavor. 

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by phatch View Post
 

Within limits, it's a fine idea. But onions can't cook as long as you've been trying and discovered. 

 

You should probably add the onions when you turn the chicken. If they need more time to get your desired doneness, they can finish while the chicken rests out of the pan.

 

But, you might try some other oddball things. White Castle steam grills their burgers over chopped onion. The patty is small and thin and cooks quickly while the onions become tasty in the rendered fat and cook. while infusing the patty with onion flavor.  Both are then put in the bun and enjoyed. 

 

Slice the chicken breast thinly into paillards. Here's one method, but there are other methods for different sized results.

 

 

Chop your onion, season the chicken breast with salt and pepper. Heat your skillet over medium high heat. When hot, Add a little oil to the pan, swirl to coat. Add the onion, season quickly with salt and pepper as desired. Lay the season paillard on top. Cover with a lid. Should cook in a few minutes. No turning or fussing, will have steamed in onion scent. Wont' have the crustiness of a sear, but it should be good in its own right. 

 

Or, another technique is to build an onion gravy for service as in the classic smothered pork chop. Just substitute your chicken breast. 

 

http://americanfood.about.com/od/porkrecipes/r/Smothered_Pork_Chops.htm

 

Or you might try an onion powder based rub or just plain onion salt instead of regular salt in seasoning your chicken breast. 

 

Just some other ideas on infusing onion flavor. 

@phatch  thanks bro for taking the time to write that long reply. you're awesome.

i figured i could try maybe throwing them in towards the end, or somewhere in the middle like you suggested, but i really never understood how important sweating the onions may or not be and thought if i didnt do that first there wouldnt be any flavor.

im trying to learn from youtube vids so everything someone says to do, i feel like i have to do it exactly that way.

im slowly learning but have a lonnnnnnnng way to go(obviously) :)

thanks for the advice. tomorrow i will make some chicken and rice and try putting the onion in when i turn like u said and see how that goes.
 

post #8 of 9

Depending on the protein you are cooking, and how it's sliced.

 

You could try to fry your aromatics and onions in a fairly generous amount of oil.   Remove them and then fry your chicken in  the now flavoured oil.

 

Then mix them all together or alternatively make a sauce with the oil in the pan.

 

If you must have darkly cooked, carmelized onions, cook them first.   Then remove them and cook you chicken breast and add them back just before serving.

 

Everything is about timing, it must all end on the plate at the same time but nothing says it has to all start at the same time.

 

(fwiw- most restaurants pre-cook onions and keep em in the cooler till needed)  It's one of the few 'save-time' steps that doesn't hurt the 'quality' at all.   Honestly I think it might even enhance the flavour.

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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post #9 of 9

Another way would be to brown off the chicken in the pan first, then transfer it to the oven to finish. Gives you ample time to make a pan sauce in the pan you browned the chicken in and get all the taste of the browning residue into the sauce. Onions, garlic, deglaze with white wine and/or chicken stock, reduce, salt, pepper, whisk in a bit of cold butter, done.

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