Joni Woolf: Enjoy vidalia onions many ways
Published 10:57 am Saturday, May 25, 2019
Vidalia onion season is here, and the famous onion is appearing for sale everywhere. I bought half a bag with a friend at exercise, and already I know this will not be enough. I’m down to two, so I must go in search of more. The Vidalia onion is unlike any other onion, anywhere, and is found equally at home at the local hamburger stand and on elegant tables across the South — and beyond. Lewis Grizzard once wrote: “God, I am convinced, was traveling through what was to become Southeast Georgia during the six days of creation and said ‘Let there be a sweet, mild onion, and let it grow here and here only.’” (If Grizzard said it, it must be true.)
I scoured the records I keep of foods written about, thinking surely I had shared my favorite Vidalia onion recipe. In three years of weekly columns, I had not. So here is mine, along with others I have found or been given. Try one. Try them all. You can’t lose.
Vidalia Onion Casserole
4 cups Vidalia onions (cut into rings)
¼ cup butter
1 cup bread crumbs
½ cup grated cheese
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup sherry
2/3 cup chicken broth
¼ tsp. nutmeg
Saute onions in butter until translucent. Remove from skillet and place in a 2-quart casserole. Make a sauce of butter, flour, sherry, and chicken broth. Cook until thickened. Pour sauce over onions. Top with bread crumbs and grated cheese. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. (You could omit the grated cheese and increase the Parmesan for a slightly different taste.) Cook 30 minutes at 350 degrees F. Serves 4 to 6.
Upside Down Sweet Onion Cornbread
2 boxes corn muffin mix
2 Vidalia onions
1 cup cottage cheese
1 cup corn, rinsed and drained (whole kernel)
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, melted
½ cup bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/3 cup green onions, finely chopped
4 tablespoons butter
¼ teaspoon sugar
Chive cream cheese for garnish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Carefully slice onions into rings, making sure to leave them intact. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in large cast-iron skillet and arrange 5 to 7 large onion ring sections in the center and around the edge of the pan. This will be the top of your “cake.” Fill in empty sections with smaller pieces of onion. Saute onions (without disturbing) for 5 to 8 minutes, until softened. While onions cook, beat eggs into corn muffin mix in large bowl; stir in cottage cheese, ¾ cup melted butter, and sugar. Once fully incorporated, fold in cheddar cheese, corn, bacon, and green onions. Batter will be thick. Pour over the sautéed onions in the skillet, then transfer skillet to oven and bake 30-35 minutes or until cornbread is golden brown and until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool 10-15 minutes. Carefully invert onto serving platter, slice into wedges and (optional) serve with cream cheese.
(This recipe was given me by my onion-loving exercise friend, Diane Harrison. It was given to Diane by a friend in Savannah. This is how food evolves!)
Vidalia Onion Dip
5 or 6 Vidalia onions, sliced in rings
½ cup sugar
½ cup red wine vinegar
2 cups water
½ cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon celery salt
Slice the onions thin and soak from 2 to 4 hours in a mixture of sugar, vinegar, and water. Drain well and toss with mayonnaise and celery salt. Serve on saltine crackers — a fast, easy treat for a warm spring afternoon (or a hot summer day, which we are about to enjoy).
Searching the internet, I found several great-sounding recipes for Vidalia onion relishes, pickles, casseroles, and other dishes. The possibilities are almost endless, so search out recipes wherever they may be found, and try something new. Or, just add an onion to your hamburger and tip your hat to Lewis Grizzard, long gone.
Joni Woolf, a writer and editor, now lives in Schley County, having moved from her home in Macon several years ago. Contact her at email@example.com