Cooks over much of the world would be lost without the onion. These pungent bulbs are prized and often referred to as "lilies of the kitchen."
They've been around for a long time. Translation of Babylonian cuneiform, tablets at Yale University Library, reveal recipes using onions, leek and garlic. No recipes were published, however. I slipped into a serious mess when the oldest living Aggie requested information on how to cook onion rings. He and his wife (83 and 82 years-old) love onion rings but cannot make the batter stay on like those they get at the cafes.
Silly me, thinking that since I work for the University which has developed the two most popular onion varieties in the world -- the Granex (Vidalia, Georgia fame!) and the Texas A&M 1015Y Supersweet) -- that we would CERTAINLY have the best onion ring recipe in the world. WRONG! I got every stupid answer from "use a modified corn dog recipe" to "use a store-brought mix". So, as usual, I had to consult with the best cook in the free world -- my old Mama. Below is my old Tennessee Mama's recipe which she whispered in my ear with her last breath. She also mentioned that even her wonderfully simple recipe won't work IF THE COOKING GREASE IS NOT HOT ENOUGH. If anyone else has a better onion ring recipe, send it to me. Here's the best recipe in TENNESSEE:
Of course, one magnificent onion recipe lead to another. Here is an onion casserole recipe from Greg Grant's (former Bexar County Extension Horticulturist and now Cherokee County Horticulturist) Mama in Center, Texas.
1 cup flourCombine flour and beer in a large bowl, blending thoroughly. Cover and allow batter to sit at room temperature for at least 3 hours. Afterwards gently stir in the sugar and salt.
1 cup beer (the brand of your choice since there will be some left to cool you during the cooking!)
3-4 cups shortening for frying purposes
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
seasoning salt (optional).
Cut onions into one-fourth inch or larger (depending upon preference) slices. Separate slices into rings. Heat shorting to 375 degrees F. (You can determine this temperature by dropping a sample ring into the hot grease -- it should begin to immediately sizzle and quickly rise to the top or a one inch square piece of bread will brown in one minute in 375 degree oil.) Dry sliced rings and roll in flour. Then dip onion rings into batter and fry until delicate golden brown. The batter can be made thicker by adding more flour or thinner by adding more beer.
This batter can also be used successfully for frying okra with a batter-that-sticks. The only complaints received have been those who let the batter stay in the bowl overnight and dry. I was told the batter sticks so well to the bowl that it has to be chiseled out!
Greg's Mama also sent the famous "Farmer's Market Steak recipe:
4 large sliced onions (Supersweet onions ONLY!)Layer the above three ingredients. Repeat layers again. Combine two cans cream of chicken soup with one-half cup milk. Pour over layers and top with crushed chips. Bake at 350 degrees F. for one hour.
1 bag barbecued potato chips
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
And finally if you just want to stuff some of those sweet delights try:
"Farmer's Market Steak
1 pound of round steakTrim steak and cut into serving pieces. Combine flour, salt and pepper. Dredge steak in flour mixture and lightly pound with meat mallet. Brown steak in hot oil in a skillet. Place in a shallow two quart casserole. Layer bell pepper and onion (both cut into slices) over steak. Combine water, butter, bouillon granules and soy sauce in skillet. Cook until bouillon granules dissolve. Pour sauce over meat, bell pepper and onions. Cover casserole and bake at 325 degrees F. for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Serve over rice or noodles.
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large bell pepper
2 large Supersweet onions
1 cup water
1 tablespoon margarine
1 and one-half teaspoons beef-flavored bouillon granules
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Hot cooked noodles or rice
8 medium onionsScoop out the centers of 8 peeled onions leaving at least one-fourth inch thick shell. Chop the centers to equal one and one-half cups. Blanch the cases for 5 minutes and turn upside down to drain. In a skillet, saute the chopped onion in one- fourth cup butter until lightly colored. Add the meat, crumbled, and cook a few minutes. Stir in one and one-fourth cups bread crumbs which have been soaked in the light cream. Simmer about 5 minutes and add parsley, thyme, salt and pepper. Fill shells with stuffing and put in a buttered shallow dish. Pour the beef stock and wine around them. Bring to a boil on top of stove and then bake in a 350 degree F. oven, basting several times, for 45 minutes. Transfer the onions to a serving dish. Reduce the juices by half, pour over the onions and sprinkle with additional chopped parsley. Serves 8.
1/4 cup butter
1/2 pound sausage or ground meat
1 1/4 cups soft bread crumbs
1/3 cup light cream
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup beef stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
BETTY CAROL GILBERT'S ONION CASSEROLE
1 lb. onions, sliced and separatedPreheat oven to 350 degrees. In medium saucepan combine onions with water to cover. Bring to boil; boil 1 minute. Drain. Transfer to 8-inch square baking dish.
1 egg, beaten
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
In bowl combine egg, cream, salt and pepper; pour over onions. Sprinkle with cheese, then paprika. Bake 25 minutes. Makes 6 servings.
SWEET ONION CASSEROLE - Lowfat version
1 lb. onions, sliced and separated into ringsPreheat oven to 350 degrees. In medium saucepan combine onions with water to cover. Bring to boil; boil 1 minute. Drain well. Transfer to 8-inch square baking dish sprayed with non-stick vegetable coating. In bowl combine buttermilk and cornstarch and stir until cornstarch is completely dissolved. Mix in egg whites, salt and pepper; pour over onions. Sprinkle with cheese, ten paprika. Bake 25 minutes. Serves 6.
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese
Each serving contains approximately;
Cholesterol 101 mg
Fat: 19 gm
Sodium: 382 mg
Cholesterol: 9 mg
Fat: 3 mg
Sodium: 292 mg
OF COURSE EVERYONE KNOWS THAT: Onions can be chopped and dried in the oven. Use the lowest setting and remove when thoroughly dry but not brown. Store at room temperature in airtight containers.
TEXAS ONION CASSEROLE
Four Large Sweet onions - slicedLayer the above three ingredients. Repeat layers again. Combine two cans cream of chicken soup with one-half cup milk. Pour over layers and top with crushed chips. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.
One Bag potato chips - crushed
Two cups grated cheddar cheese
The fat grams can be reduced by using low fat products. The results will still be a delicious casserole that goes well with any type of entree.
2 large yellow or white onions, peeledCut onions in half crosswise and place, cut side up, in a baking dish. Combine remaining ingredients in saucepan on low until butter is melted; stir well. Pour over center of each onion half and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
2 TBSP Tomato Juice
1 1/2 TBSP Honey
1 TBSP butter or margarine
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp paprika
Onions can be frozen. Chop and place on a cookie sheet in the freezer. When frozen, remove and place in freezer containers or bags, and seal. This allows you to remove the amount you want when you want it. An alternative is to freeze whole. Jumbos can be peeled, washed, cored and dropped in a plastic bag. Once frozen, they can be removed like ice cubes. Freezing changes the onion's texture, so frozen onions should be used for cooking only. Whole frozen onions can also be baked.
Place a whole, raw, unpeeled onion in the refrigerator and chill for approximately one hour before serving, or peel and cut into slices and place in a bowl of ice water for approximately 30 minutes and then drain on paper towels. Either of these methods will bring out a sweeter flavor when eating raw onions.