Cabernet Franc Caramelized Onion Sauce

Cabernet Franc Caramelized Onion Sauce
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About This Recipe

Greetings, fellow home chefs and wine enthusiasts! It's Lily from Napa Valley, and today I'm thrilled to share with you my Cabernet Franc Caramelized Onion Sauce recipe. Inspired by the beautiful Napa Valley wine country, I wanted to create a versatile sauce that brings together the elegance of a local Cabernet Franc and the sweet, savory flavors of caramelized onions.

Developing this recipe was a true labor of love, as I experimented with different ways to draw out the unique characteristics of the Cabernet Franc, a grape variety that thrives in the diverse terroir of Napa Valley. By combining the wine with caramelized onions, I was able to create a sauce that showcases the wine's vibrant fruit notes, subtle herbaceous undertones, and smooth tannins.

This versatile sauce pairs beautifully with a wide range of dishes, such as grilled steaks, roasted chicken, or even a flavorful mushroom risotto. For a delightful side dish, try serving it over garlic mashed potatoes or roasted root vegetables. If you're looking for a dessert to complement the flavors of the sauce, consider a rich chocolate torte or a velvety crème brûlée.

To truly capture the essence of Napa Valley, source your ingredients from local farmers markets and wineries. Pick up fresh onions from the St. Helena Farmers Market or the Napa Farmers Market, and choose a quality Cabernet Franc from renowned wineries like Lang & Reed or Crocker & Starr.

As you indulge in the flavors of this Cabernet Franc Caramelized Onion Sauce, let it transport you to the rolling vineyards and sun-drenched hillsides of Napa Valley. Explore the region's rich history, discover hidden gems like the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art or the Oxbow Public Market, and immerse yourself in the vibrant wine and food culture that has made Napa Valley a world-class destination.

Happy cooking, and cheers to your Napa Valley-inspired culinary adventures!

Hero Ingredient Spotlight: Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc is a dark-skinned grape variety that hails from the Bordeaux region of France. In the world-renowned Napa Valley, this grape thrives, producing wines known for their medium body, rich fruit flavors, and herbaceous undertones. Incorporating Cabernet Franc into a culinary creation, as in this sauce, showcases its versatility and deepens the dish's flavor profile. Its vibrant berry notes, hints of bell pepper, and velvety tannins infuse the sauce with character and sophistication that is distinctly Napa.

How to Perfectly Caramelize Onions

  1. Choose the Right Pan: Opt for a large, thick-bottomed skillet to ensure even cooking and prevent the onions from burning.
  2. Low and Slow: The key to caramelizing onions is patience. Cook them over low heat, stirring occasionally to ensure even browning.
  3. Avoid Overcrowding: Spread the onions in a single, even layer in the skillet. Overcrowding can cause them to steam rather than caramelize.
  4. Watch for Color Change: As the onions cook, they'll slowly turn a deep golden brown, releasing their natural sugars and enhancing their sweetness.
  5. Deglaze the Pan: Towards the end, use a splash of Cabernet Franc to lift any flavorful bits from the bottom of the skillet, enhancing the sauce's depth.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I use a different type of wine? While Cabernet Franc from Napa Valley is preferred for its distinct flavor profile, you can substitute with other red wines like Carmenere or Merlot. Just note that each wine will impart a unique flavor to the sauce.
  2. How can I store leftover sauce? Store any leftover sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat gently on the stovetop before serving.
  3. Is there an alternative to balsamic vinegar? If you don't have balsamic vinegar on hand, red wine vinegar can be used as a substitute. It will still provide a tangy depth, though the flavor may be slightly different.
  4. I'm vegan. Can I make this sauce? Absolutely! Just use vegetable broth in place of beef broth and substitute the butter with a vegan alternative or olive oil.
  5. Can this sauce be frozen for later use? Yes! Allow the sauce to cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container or freezer bag. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat on the stovetop.

Tips for Success

  1. Use Quality Ingredients: Given the simplicity of this sauce, the quality of ingredients plays a crucial role. Opt for a high-quality Cabernet Franc and fresh onions to ensure the best flavors.
  2. Constantly Taste and Adjust: As the sauce simmers, taste it periodically. Depending on the wine used and personal preference, you might want to adjust the seasoning or add more brown sugar for added sweetness.
  3. Pair Thoughtfully: This sauce shines when paired with the right dish. Think grilled meats, hearty pastas, or even a robust cheese platter to truly enjoy its depth and richness.

Recipe Overview

Cabernet Franc Caramelized Onion Sauce
Lily Anderson
2 cups
Calories Per Serving:
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:

Ingredients List


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 cup Cabernet Franc wine (preferably from Napa Valley)
  • 1 cup beef or vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (optional, if you prefer a sweeter sauce)

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sliced onions, salt, and pepper, stirring to coat the onions evenly with the oil.
  2. Reduce the heat to low, and cook the onions for 45-50 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are caramelized and golden brown. Be patient, as the slow cooking process brings out the onions' natural sweetness.
  3. Stir in the dried thyme, and cook for another 2 minutes.
  4. Increase the heat to medium-high, and add the Cabernet Franc wine. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the wine has reduced by half.
  5. Add the beef or vegetable broth and balsamic vinegar, and let the sauce simmer for an additional 15 minutes, or until it has thickened to your desired consistency.
  6. Stir in the unsalted butter and optional brown sugar, adjusting the salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve the sauce warm over your favorite dishes, such as grilled steak, roasted vegetables, or even a hearty risotto.

Share Your Results

Was it everything you dreamed it could be? Let me know how it turned out for you and share a picture on social media with the hashtag #LilyCooksNapa

Hello and welcome to Napa Home Chef! We're thrilled you're joining us to explore the vibrant world of wine country cooking. Our team has crafted bold, creative recipes inspired by Napa Valley's lush landscapes, bountiful harvests, and world-renowned wines. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

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