Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sausage-stuffed sweet onions

I've still got the three Vidalia onions from my first Annie's share and I wanted to do something with them that would be inadvisable to do with the normal sort. There are a few recipe collections on-line mostly filled with the sort of questionable recipes marketing boards put together to use excessive amounts of whatever product they're hawking. This particularly recipe was on the official Vidalia onion website, but it's from an actual restaurant--Elizabeth on 27th in Savannah, Georgia--and has been enjoyed by people not on the payroll.

I did some modification. The original recipe calls for "spicy sausage". Since it's from Georgia, and because the recipe also calls for sage, I figure that's southern-style sausage although I don't think I've ever seen a spicy version. I think you can get bulk southern sausage at my local Fresh Market, but the day I went shopping saw a heavy downpour just as I was getting off work, so the covered parking at Whole Foods beaconed instead. Their sausage-of-the-week was a Hawaiian sausage with pineapple in it which seemed like an interesting choice to stuff onions with. I considered switching out the white cheddar cheese to match, but I couldn't figure out what would work better so I just chose a mild melty variety of white cheddar and used that.

3 large sweet onions
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
salt and pepper
1/2 pound bulk sausage
1 small yellow pepper, finely diced
a similar amount of yellow squash, finely diced
1 handful Italian parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup grated or crumbled white cheddar cheese

0. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat 2 cups water to boiling.

1. Peel the sweet onions and slice both ends flat. Scoop out the centers [I found the sharp edge and shallow bowl of my teaspoon measure made it a suitable tool for this task.] trying not to break through the root end. [I succeeded two times out of three, but my third onion was quite flat which made it difficult to deal with.] Reserve the scooped out onion for the stuffing. Place the onions in a baking dish, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with the melted butter. [Pouring the butter into the hollowed out onions and then brushing it up over the sides worked well for me.] Pour the boiling water into the dish until it reaches about halfway up the onions. Cover the dish and bake for 30 minutes until onions are tender.

2. Meanwhile, fairly finely chopped the reserved onion scraps. Heat a medium pan over medium-high heat. Crumble the sausage into the pan and cook until just barely cooked through and, preferably, nicely browned. Remove to a medium bowl. Add a little olive oil to the pan if there isn't much sausage grease. Add half the onion, pepper, squash, and salt and pepper to taste. Turn the heat down to medium low and sweat until everything is softened and the onions are translucent. [Save the rest of the onion scraps for another use. I found that they caramelize quite nicely.] Once it's cooled, crumble the sausage further if there are any large chunks. When the vegetables are ready add to the sausage along with the parsley and most of the cheese. Mix well.

3. Prep your ingredients for the lemon butter sauce:
1/2 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
a similar amount of shallot, minced
2 Tablespoons dry white wine
1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed
[You can put everything but the cream and butter right into the small pan you'll be cooking this in.]

4. Remove the onions from the baking dish to a baking sheet. Don't turn off the oven. Stuff the onions with the stuffing, packing gently, until full to overflowing. Add more cheese on top. Return to oven and cook around 5 minutes more to melt the cheese.

5. While the cheese is melting, heat a small pan with the sauce's oil, garlic, shallot, wine, juice and zest over high heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce to 1 Tablespoon (not including the solid bits). Add the cream, reduce to 2 Tablespoons. Turn the heat down to medium and whisk in the butter one or two pieces at a time [OK, I did four, but my pieces were quite small.], waiting until each has melted before adding the next. This won't take much time and the sauce will thicken considerably. Strain into a small bowl.

Remove onions to individual serving dishes and top with the sauce. A little more parsley on top would be nice for the presentation too. I wish I had done that.
In the end, it's sausage and onions. I don't need to tell you that that's a good combination. And I particularly like the play between the pineapple in the sausage and the cheddar. The onion, with it's bite bred out, doesn't really assert itself in the mixture. It's more of an equal partner with the stuffing. The sauce adds richness, but less flavor than I'd hoped for. Overall, not bad; not great. I'd be curious to compare with a version done with the hot sausage the recipe calls for.

As far as the flavor goes, I may as well have sliced up all the ingredients and sautéed them up in a pan. The stuffing is all presentation, albeit, quite a nice one. I've stuffed peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers and every time I expect more than the sum of the ingredients and every time I'm disappointed. Well, I've learned my lesson; My stuffing days are over. If you see me declaring my intent to stuff anything in the future, do please remind me.


LaDivaCucina said...

You know what this recipe would be good for? The grill. A nice little compact meal, bowl included. What about onion soup with the sweet vidalias? I'll be getting my first share from Annie's tonight! yay!

billjac said...

I think you're right. Good grilling form factor plus a little charring would add a little interest to the onion's flavor.

I think these sweet onions would work great for onion soup since they caramelize so darn well. I browned my leftovers, mixed with a good amount of parsley, squeezed on some lemon and served with a rib eye steak. Great combination of flavors.

Anonymous said...

Well, I love eating onion with my sausage so this will be a delicious twist. And with cheese too. Winner! ◡‿◡