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How a cartouche can help you cook onions and healthy stews

Have you ever checked your onions when cooking healthy soups, tagines and stews, and find they’ve gone all brown when you actually you wanted them to turn translucent instead?

This was once a common problem in my house. But I’ve discovered you just have to make a cartouche – a sort of lid for your onions made out of baking parchment.

It sounds weird but actually it’s really easy, and it does work. Your onions will just cook quietly, while you get on with doing something else.

It works by reducing evaporation, and, if you’re using it for a stew, it will help keep the all the ingredients submerged.

I’ve been doing a six-week Cooking with Confidence course at Leith’s School of Food & Wine every week, and this is one of the tricks that we’ve been taught and I now use regularly.

You can also use the cartouche method when you cook leeks to prevent them from browning. And it’s also useful if you’re cooking a casserole, soup, stew or stock, and you want to prevent the juice from evaporating, and keep everything submerged and simmering.

It just involves you getting a bit crafty with the greaseproof paper, but once you know how, it’s very easy – I’m not a particularly crafty person so if I can do it, anyone can.

How to make a cartouche

1. Grab a square of greaseproof paper

2. Fold it in half, and then half again

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3. Take your two folded edges and bring them together to make a triangular shape

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4. Fold the edges together to make a smaller triangle

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5. Roughly measure from the centre of your cooking pot and tear where you think the outer edge should be

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5. Open it out and you should have a circle

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6. Crumple up your greaseproof circle, and give it a soaking under cold running water

Don’t skimp on the water bit – the first time I didn’t add enough and my onions burnt.

crumpled cartouche.jpg

7. Fry your onions or leeks for a minute and then pop your cartouche on top

Alternatively, use it to top a casserole or stew. You’ll then need a lid over the top – especially if you’re cooking a soup, stock or stew.

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8. Cook till the onion is translucent

Good luck!

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Disclosure: I received a free Cooking with Confidence course at Leiths School of Food & Wine for review purposes.


Comments (16)

  • Avatar

    Sarah Ebner

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    What a brilliant tip. As long as it doesn’t take too long, I’m going to try it myself. The course sounds fabulous too. Am sure you must have learnt so much

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      LearnerMother

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      What a good tip, I’ll have to remember to as my onions are always either raw or burnt!

  • Avatar

    Mummy of Two

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    Great tip – will have to give it a try!

  • Avatar

    Jen aka Muminthemadhouse

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    Great reminder, my mum used to do this. I batch cook onions and freeze them as I can not bear cutting them

  • Avatar

    mellissa williams

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    What an interesting tip. I have never heard of a cartouche and I have an A level in Food and nutrition.

  • Avatar

    You Baby Me Mummy

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    I’ve seen chef’s do this on TV, but I am afraid I am a very poor cook x

  • Avatar

    Kate Thompson

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    This is really interesting – never heard of a cartouche or cooking onions like this. Will have to try!

  • Avatar

    Victoria Mylittlel

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    i thought its normal for them to change the colour as they are getting less strong

  • Avatar

    Angela Spicer

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    What a good tip. I have never heard of doing this before.

  • Avatar

    Polly

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    interesting, i’ve never heard of this either!!

  • Avatar

    Keri-Anne

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    An amazing tip! I love using onions in our stews x

  • Avatar

    ninja cat

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    what a clever little idea

  • Avatar

    Louisa

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    I cook a lot of stews so this is a useful tip, thank you.

  • Avatar

    Lori

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    What a great tip! I’m definitely going to use that one in my kitchen. x

  • Avatar

    Monika

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    So how is the paper different than putting a lid on the pan?

Comments are closed