My grandfather Vincenzo was a baked onion aficionado. He just loved baked onions. It’s one of the things I remember most about his eating habits. They didn’t seem too appetizing as a kid, but later in life I came to realize what I was missing. Onions are surprisingly sweet when baked. These onions are fabulous when served with grilled steak.
BAKED ONIONS WITH SAUSAGE
(Cipolle al Forno con Salsiccia)
Difficulty Rating: Moderate
Makes 4 servings.
4 large sweet onions
3 bay leaves
2 Italian sausage links, casings removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs
3 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
2 tablespoon dried currants
1 tablespoon pine nuts
Salt and pepper
Olive oil drizzling
PARBOIL THE ONIONS: Bring a medium pot of salted water to boil with the bay leaves.
Peel the onions and place them into the boiling water. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes. Drain the onions until cool enough to handle. Discard the first onion layer if too mushy.
Cut the tops off and trim some of the bottom root ends so that the onions stand upright.
Scoop out the centers of the onions (see Tip), leaving 2 to 3 of the outer layers intact, forming a shell.
Chop and reserve 1/3 cup of the removed onion flesh. Use remaining onion for other recipes.
MAKE THE STUFFING: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Heat a small non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
Crumble the sausage into the skillet and cook, breaking into smaller pieces with a fork, until no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Transfer sausage to a bowl. Place the olive oil into the skillet with the sausage drippings and add the onion.
Cook onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the bread crumbs and cook stirring constantly, until lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Place the onion/breadcrumb mixture into the bowl with sausage. Stir in the cheese, parsley, currants, and pine nuts. Season with salt and pepper.
BAKE THE ONIONS: Drizzle a little olive oil onto the bottom of a baking dish.
Fill the onions with the sausage mixture and place in the baking dish. Drizzle the top and sides of the onion with oil. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking 20 to 25 minutes longer, until onions are tender and the tops are browned.
TIP: It’s easier to scoop the center of the onions out using a 1-1/4-inch ice cream/cookie scoop, melon scooper, or grapefruit spoon.