Hailing from the small town of Vidalia, Georgia, America’s favorite sweet onion unearths itself early in the growing season each year. This awe inspiring allium owes a lot of its fame to the agronomy of the region. The soil in the greater Vidalia region of Georgia has extremely low levels of sulfur. Additionally, the Vidalia Onion Committee (yep they exist) note that the weather is a perfect combination of slow, but steady warming soil temperatures, and intermittent rain in the early spring. These factors result in an onion that is sweet, without the sharp taste of other varieties, or the tears!
This recipe re-imagines a traditional way Vidalia onions are prepared: baked! Here in the North East we are totally accustomed to the idea of a baked potato as a side, so get on board and ditch the skepticism!! If you think about it, a baked Vidalia onion has a lot more to offer than a potato. Tough skin, and starch of a potato cannot compete with layered textures, burst of flavor, and progressive caramelization that a baked onion can offer. I’ve added a little nod to the heart of Wolff’s Apple House and served these springtime beauties with savory caramelized apples and brie cheese.
Vidalia Onion with Savory Caramelized Apples
- 2 Vidalia Onions
- 2 Tbsp. salted butter
- 2 tsp. bouillon – chicken, beef, or vegetable
- Salt and pepper to season
- 2 Apples – peeled, cored, and diced – select a firm variety that will hold up in cooking
- ⅓ c. brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- ½ tsp. thyme – dried
- ⅛ tsp. rosemary – dried
- 1 dash clove – ground
- Preheat your oven to 350. Slice the top of the onions and peel the outer layer, leaving the root intact. The goal is to have the onion sit level, so if the root keeps it from doing that, you can slice of the bottom to create a flat bottom.
- Use a knife and cot a 1 inch deep cone into the top of the onion. Remove and discard, or dice and add to caramelized apples.
- Fill the hole with bouillon, and then cap with 1 Tbsp. of butter each. Season with salt and pepper to your liking.
- Wrap each onion in enough foil to fully enrobe it, ensuring there are no gaps. Pull the edges up and twist on the top. You need a tight seal for the bake to be successful. Feel free to use two layers if you want to be sure!
- Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until the onion is soft.
- While the onions are baking, start your caramelized apples. Start with a medium size pot. Melt the butter and add thyme and rosemary, cooking on low for up to 5 minutes, then strain and remove the herbs. This will impart the savory flavors of the herbs without having them end up in your final dish. Skip this step if a rosemary or thyme leaf in your food does not bother you.
- Add the vinegar, sugar, and chopped apples to the butter. Stir and cook for 3-5 minutes on medium/high heat until the sugar melts and starts to get a slight simmer. At this point, pull the heat back to low, add the cinnamon and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring often. The apples should be tender and the sauce a golden/amber color.
- When the onions have finished, unwrap and turn on the broiler. Cut a wedge of brie cheese, leaving the rind on. The point should be up toward the broiler, and the round of the rind should be in the cavity a the top of the onion. Broil until the cheese melts.
- Spoon half of the caramelized apples into the bottom of two warmed bowls and nestle the onion on top. Drizzle the remaining caramelized apples over the onion and brie. Serve warm.