I have been cooking food in the Instant Pot for some time now, and I’ve noticed a certain phenomenon when it comes to onions: unless you leave them in thick chunks, they are almost always reduced to to mushy, barely noticeable strands that dissolve with a glance. This isn’t great if you want the vegetable to shine, but it’s awesome if you want to infuse your dish with oniony goodness.
I’m a big fan of the onion mush and the flavour it brings; it’s basically a concentrate. I love it so much, I decided to make a big batch of it, then add it to soups, stews, pasta sauce, and rice dishes whenever I felt I needed more onion flavour. Three onions makes about eight ounces of the stuff, but you can scale it up if you need more. To make this umami-packed, caramelised onion concentrate, you will need:
- 3 onions
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- A pinch of sugar (optional)
- 1 cup water or stock
Slice your onions super thin using a mandolin or sharp knife, and add a tablespoon of olive oil to the Instant Pot insert. Press the “Saute” button, and adjust the heat to “Low” using the “Adjust” button. Add the onions, season them with salt, and give it all a good stir. Let the onions caramelize, stirring them every once in a while, then add a pinch of sugar and give it another stir.
Let the onions cook for just a couple more minutes then deglaze the insert with water or stock, scraping the bottom to get all the little burnt bits. Seal the Instant Pot and make sure the release valve is set to “Sealing,” then press “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” and adjust the time to 35 minutes using the “+” and “-” buttons. After the cooking time has elapsed, release the pressure manually, let the soupy, barely-holding-their-form onions cool for a bit, then transfer them to little jars or an ice cube tray.
Store the concentrate either in the fridge or — if you’re using ice cube trays — the freezer. Add the stuff to your dishes by the cube or spoonful, instantly boosting the oniony flavour without having shedding any tears.
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