Whole roasted onions are an old-fashioned dish. I have only vague childhood memories of them coming from the oven, with the tops of their sausage-stuffed centers a crunchy brown and the skins a translucent sienna. It is a dish that deserves a revival, especially since today's farmers' markets offer us much the same wealth of seasonal onions from which to choose as our grandparents had. The stuffing here is similar to a sausage-corn bread stuffing for turkey, and the onions would be welt partnered with cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes.
- 6 red, yellow, or white medium-large onions, about 1/3 pound each
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 large tart apple, peeled, cored, and grated
- 1/2 pound ground pork
- 2 cups day-old corn bread, crumbled
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
- 1 to 2 cups beef broth or water
Peel each onion and cut a 1-inch slice off the stem end. Leave the root end intact as this helps the onion to hold its shape while cooking. Place the onions in a saucepan just large enough to hold them in a single layer and add water to cover. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat, cover, and reduce the heat to medium. Parboil the onions until they have begun to soften slightly and the outer layer of skin has become slightly translucent, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the onions to a plate to drain and cool. Reserve 1 cup of the hot cooking water. While the onions are cooling, melt the butter in the hot water and keep warm over low heat.
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F
When the onions are cool enough to handle, scoop out their centers with the sharp edge of a metal spoon, leaving a shell approximately 1/2 inch thick. Set aside separately the hollowed-out onions and the centers. Place the apple, pork, corn bread, salt, pepper, sage, and thyme in a bowl. Mince half of the onion centers and add them to the bowl; discard the remaining centers or reserve for another use. Pour the warm water with the melted butter over all and mix well. The stuffing should be moist and pasty; if it is a bit dry, add a little of the beef broth or water. Pack each hollowed-out onion with the filling mixture, mounding it as high as you dare. Place the filled onions upright in a single layer in a baking dish just large enough to hold them. Pour enough beef broth or water around them to reach halfway up their sides.
Bake until the stuffing is well browned and has begun to pull away slightly from the edges of the onions and the skins of the onions are tender when pierced with a fork, about 45 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the onions carefully from the broth. Serve hot.
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