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This technique describes the cooking process of softening an onion and drawing out its natural sweetness without allowing it to take on any colour. The onions are gently sweated in a little oil or butter. Using a dampened cartouche helps the sweating process and seals in the juices.

...Sweat an onion

Step by step

1 In a suitably sized saucepan, melt a nut of butter or a little oil. Put the onions in the saucepan and place a dampened cartouche on the surface, in contact with the onions. Cover with a tight-fitting lid, place over a very gentle heat and allow the onions to ‘sweat’.

2 Check the onions occasionally, especially if a lot of steam is escaping. If the cartouche is dry, re-dampen it and return it to cover the onions. If any onions have browned on the bottom of the pan, don’t stir them in. Discard them and use a clean saucepan to continue sweating.

3 After 10–15 minutes, check the onions again. They will be ready when they have lost volume and become translucent. If you squeeze a piece of onion between your fingers there should be no resistance. If you taste a piece, it will have a sweet, mild flavour.

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