When I spotted these beauties at Mow's at Prahran Market it was the cause of great happiness. It's probably been a good 10 months since they were last available here and I was an immediate fan from the first taste.
Vidalia Onions hail from Vidalia, Georgia and are named after the town. They are a sweet tasting onion first discovered in the 1930's. It's said that you can eat them like an apple, though I must admit, I haven't actually tried that.
The onions I have are grown in Queensland so I can't really judge whether or not they are exactly the same as those that are grown in Georgia.
When it came to finding something to do with these onions, one thing immediately came to mind. It's a sweet onion why not highlight that sweetness through low slow cooking - a naturally sweet form of caramelised onions.
Caramelised Vadalia Onions
1 kg Vadalia Onions, sliced finely
knob of butter
There are a lot of recipe out there that incorporate sugar in the process of making caramelised onions. This is something that I'd never encountered. As most of cooking evolved from what my mother taught me, I base this treatment on her recipe and her recipe is simple - all you need is time and caramelisation occurs naturally, whatever onion you use.
Over a low heat, place a good glug of olive oil and a knob of butter into a heavy based pan. Once the butter has melted, add the onions. Stir well to coat and let the onions slowly cook. It's important to keep stirring to ensure that they don't stick to the bottom of the pan or that they colour too quickly. You want them to slowly sweat and release their natural juices.
You'll start off with a huge pot but as time passes they will reduce in volume but the cooking juices will greatly increase.
These onions took a little over an hour to reach this stage - an even colouring, soft and sticky and bathed in that beautifully intense but sweet juice.
When they are cooked, store them in the fridge in a sealed container.
With these caramelised onions I made a variation of the French dish, Pissaladière (it's an onion and anchovy tart). I've used my pizza dough as the base, rolled ultra thin and shaped in a shallow rectangular baking tray.
This isn't anywhere near as dense as a true Pissaladière - the onions only sparsely cover the base, intermingled with a little shredded Provolone. Rather than forming diamond patterns with the anchovies, I've laid them out on the diagonal in one direction only and filled the gaps between these rows with wafer thin slice of par-boiled potato. With a final sprinkle of Provolone, it's baked in the oven until golden.
There's just enough anchovy to give you that flavour hit but not overwhelm - it's then tempered with those sweet caramelised onions and the neutral flavour of potato.
Serve it straight from the oven or if you can resist, serve it at room temperature.
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