Caramelized Onion & Garlic Butter Will Make Your Steak Green With Envy

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It’s summertime and that means lots of entertaining! Let’s assume that you already have a delicious main dish, like grilled steak or beer-can chicken… but you need something to make it a meal?

That something should also probably include a green vegetable, or as my friend and co-author, Anthony Underwood calls it, a Virtuous Green Vegetable (VGV). When Anthony told me about his term VGV, it really hit home. I can’t tell you how many meals and menus I’ve created and then said, “But we need a green vegetable!”

The green vegetable is an expected part of most menus, but not necessarily the most exciting. That all changes when you make my favorite flavor booster. Caramelized Onion and Garlic Butter will turn a perfunctory vegetable into a crave-worthy side dish. It is an easy-to-make, flavor-packed, make-ahead ingredient that you can keep in the refrigerator and use on all your favorite vegetables—even microwavable ones.

Recently, I bought a bag of trimmed green beans. I buy this same bag all the time—and have for years—because it is a perfect 12-ounce portion. I never knew that it was a microwave-ready bag of green beans until a few weeks ago when I turned the bag over and saw the microwave instructions.

The green beans come prepped and ready to be microwaved, but the Caramelized Onion and Garlic Butter needs to be made in advance. Think of this as The Condiment for VGV.

I microwaved the green beans in their sealed bag, and I was surprised that they were well-cooked, crisp-tender and bright green. It took mere minutes and there was no pot to wash which was a bonus. They were cooked, but needed the Caramelized Onion and Garlic Butter to give them some flavor. Not only did it give the green beans flavor, it transformed them and The Condiment is now one of my essential refrigerator items.

It’s great on any VGVs (broccoli, asparagus, peas, greens, etc) as well as sweet potatoes, cauliflower and even cabbage! And, a gamechanger for scrambled eggs too.

Making the Caramelized Onion and Garlic Butter could not be easier. It is literally made up of roasted garlic, roasted onions, and butter with a little EVOO and salt to coax their maximum flavor.

First step is to roast the garlic and onions. Slice a small to medium onion in half-moon slices. Toss with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Do the same thing with 4-to-8 cloves of garlic left in their skins. If you use peeled garlic, it will burn, so make sure you use unpeeled garlic.

Roast in the oven at 425ºF for 25-30 minutes on a parchment-lined sheet pan and let cool. The edges of the onions will be somewhat charred and the onions translucent when they are done. If you want them to be darker, you can roast them longer.

The next step is the most important. Pile the onions on top of each other when they are hot so they will steam and cool at the same time. The most efficient way to do this is to fold the parchment paper over the onions and garlic and let it sit at room temperature to cool. If you mix the hot onions and garlic with the butter, the butter will melt.

Once the onions and garlic are cool, mix them together with the room temperature butter. (Don’t forget to squeeze the roasted garlic from their papery jackets.) Add a pinch of good, coarse sea salt.

Because all onions are different sizes (last week I got a cup of onions; this week, I got less than 3/4 cup), your yield will vary and the butter may be chunky and not smooth. But don’t worry, when you add the butter to hot vegetables, it will melt, leaving the chunks of flavorful onions behind to make a perfect bite.

Caramelized Onion and Garlic Butter

Wake Up Your Green Veggies, a.k.a. VGV! with The Virtuous Green Veggie Whisperer. This flavor-rich butter is made in advance and then spooned onto microwaved vegetables for a green vegetable side dish that you want to eat, vs. feel like you “have” to eat. I top green beans most often, but feel free to substitute your favorite cooked vegetable.

Makes a generous 1 cup of butter

1 small/medium yellow or white onion

6-8 garlic cloves, unpeeled

Olive oil

Pinch of Kosher Salt

1 stick ( 4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened

Pinch of Fleur de Sel or Coarse sea salt

Make the butter in advance:

  1. Preheat to 425°F
  2. Peel the onion and slice it in half. Cut each half in thin half-moon-slices.
  3. Toss in just enough olive oil to coat and place on a small sheet pan that has been fitted with a piece of parchment paper. Toss the garlic cloves in olive oil and add to the sheet pan. Season lightly with Kosher salt.
  4. Roast onions and garlic for about 25-30 minutes or the onions are charred in places and translucent. If you want your onions to be darker, cook a little longer. The garlic should be soft and caramelized as well.
  5. Remove from oven and stir around to mix all the onions well. Fold the parchment paper over the onions and garlic and let them steam and cool for at least 1 hour or overnight in the refrigerator.
  6. When cool, squeeze the garlic out of the cloves and add to the butter. Season to taste with fleur de sel or coarse sea salt. Mix well.
  7. Mix onions with softened butter and garlic until smooth.
  8. Store in a glass mason jar in the refrigerator until ready to use. Depending on the size of your onion, this will make a generous 1 cup of butter.

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