Years ago, Neil and I went to Washington D.C. for a sightseeing trip with my younger sister and her husband. It was my first time to our nation’s capital, and I remember being most taken with Abraham Lincoln’s monument.
That evening, we went to a restaurant called ‘Vidalia’. I had the most amazing Baked Vidalia Onion as an appetizer. They were kind enough to share the recipe. I’ve been making this every year, since that trip over a decade ago!
Baked Vidalia Onions (recipe is for 4 servings)
8 T butter
4 T brown sugar
4 shallots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 t chopped fresh rosemary
4 t chopped fresh thyme
8 T sherry vinegar
4 T beef, chicken, veal or other good stock *don’t go crazy wih this – canned broth works fine!*
4 whole Vidalia or other sweet onions
- A few tablespoons good olive or other salad oil
- 4 large shiitake (or other variety) mushroom caps
- 4 oz Smithfield ham (or other smoked ham or bacon), diced
- 4 T chopped chives
- 1 ripe tomato, diced *I substitute canned Rotel tomatoes with green chiles for a little KICK*
- salt and freshly cracked pepper
- 4 pieces of aluminum foil, each around one foot square
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay each piece of foil flat, and spoon 1/4 of each of the first six ingredients (the butter, brown sugar if desired, shallots, garlic, rosemary and thyme) onto the center of each piece.
For each onion: cut off the shriveled end, then cut 6-8 shallow slits just through the brown peel, going lengthwise all the way from the shriveled end to the root; pull back the flaps of peel in a bunch, like a pony tail, over the root; plop the onion on top of the pile of seasonings on the foil, and then bunch the foil all around it, so the whole onion is completely wrapped — except for the bunched up onion peel, which should be poking out the top.
Pour 1/4 of the sherry vinegar and stock, plus a few pinches of salt and pepper, into each of the foil packets before giving the foil a final pinch to seal it well, and bake on a cooking sheet for around 45 minutes or until soft. (Note: the onion peel will be black.)
When the onion is done, heat a T or so of butter or olive oil in a saute pan over medium high-high heat, add the mushroom chunks and ham and saute until slightly browned, stir in the diced tomato, pour in the juices from the onion packets, stir until hot and then remove from heat. Salt and pepper to taste, add a bit more sherry vinegar if desired, and then whisk in additional salad oil (if desired) to make it into a vinaigrette.
Put each onion in the center of a plate and spoon sauce around it, sprinkle with chives