Executive Chef Richard Slusarz
Grand Hyatt,San Francisco
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2 yellow onions
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
Peel and dice the onions. It's important to have all the onion pieces roughly the same size and shape so they cook evenly. Heat a nonstick heavy frying pan over medium heat, then add the oil and continue to heat. Once the oil is nice and hot, add the onions. They should sizzle when they hit the oil, but the oil shouldn't be so hot that they splatter and pop. Stir them together immediately so each onion piece is coated with some of the oil. The temperature of the oil will drop. Now let the onions cook, stirring up off the bottom frequently, so each onion piece gets roughly the same amount of time in contact with the floor of the pan. Keep stirring from time to time, perhaps every 15 to 30 seconds. (The onions will lose as much as two-thirds of their volume as the water within them evaporates, and then they'll begin to brown.)
Once browning begins, you may wish to lower the heat; then you run a much lower risk of burning the onions. Either way, watch them closely at this point and stir more frequently. As the sugar within them caramelizes, they'll go from light tan to golden to deep brown. Don't cook past a mahogany color, because they're at great danger of burning about now. When the desired color is reached (after at least 10 to 20 minutes), transfer the onions to a cool plate or bowl at once so they stop cooking and then add to cooked mashed potatoes.