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This is similar to the roasted garlic miracle: Slowly caramelizing onions removes their abrupt flavor and draws out the sweetness that lies beneath this most basic and affordable of ingredients. Even as a pro chef, I am subject to kitchen budgets and have been trained to work with the most humble ingredients and transform them into elegant and complex food that diners want to eat. We can’t always look to the most expensive and exotic ingredients. Anyone can make filet mignon taste great, but the challenge lies in trying to create something exciting and delicious from what the budget allows—and sometimes, that means onions.
Make the Caramelized Onions: In a 14-inch skillet, heat the olive oil over high heat and add the onions. Do not stir or shake the pan after adding onions; instead allow the heat of the pan to recover, because the onions have cooled the pan down. Listen for a sizzling noise to return. Once you hear a sizzle, season the onions with salt and stir; the onions on the bottom, which hit the pan first, should have already begun to brown. Turn the heat down to medium and keep cooking, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes more, and then turn the heat down to low. Cook for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep the onions on the bottom from burning, until onions are completely soft and dark brown.
For the Crostini: In a medium saucepan, combine caramelized onions, thyme, beef stock and sherry over medium-low heat, season with salt and pepper, then cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
To serve, place a large spoonful of onion mixture on top of each baguette slice and top with cheese.