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Because a caramelized onion is a happy onion. (Photo: Mark Shaw.)

You never know how much time goes into the sweet, sticky shreds atop your perfect patty melt or tarte flambée until you caramelize an onion for the first time. You also never know how little effort goes in until you learn this simple but very important technique. Long story short (and depending on the conditions — pan, heat, onion thickness — it can be a long story), slice onions, heat butter or oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or pan, add onions, don’t touch, continue to not touch, don’t touch a little more, then flip and do the same with emphasis on not touching until your onions are caramelized.

Like French onion soup? Little known fact: it’s just caramelized onions with good-quality, preferably homemade stock and a little white wine simmered together for a while. The hard part is getting the cheese just right. Now that the cat’s out of the bag on that…

One more tip: if you start tearing up while slicing six onions, don’t take it as a sign of weakness. My favorite way to stave off the allium weepies is by mocking them right back — stick your tongue out while you’re slicing. The fumes affect the moist parts of your face, so intercept those pesky propanethial-s-oxide molecules before they hit your eyes.