Fresh Pantry: Smoky Stuffed Onions

March 20, 2013

Fresh Pantry

This delicious Smoky Stuffed Onions recipe is from the latest e-book cooking series Fresh Pantry by award-winning author Amy Pennington. This second volume in the series, Fresh Pantry Alliums, features 14 recipes, including Spiced Leek Fritters, Homemade Onion Rings, Citrus-Onion Meatballs, and Rustic Onion Tart, and is available in iTunes, Kindle or on Amy's site for just $2.99. Read about and buy her first volume Fresh Pantry: Winter Squash here.

“Full of clever recipes for using your kitchen to the max…[Pennington] teaches a kitchen economy for today’s urbanite—from how to stock the pantry, to what to plant when, to how to can and preserve a variety of foods for the winter months.”
—Gwyneth Paltrow, Goop

Smoky Stuffed OnionsSmoky Stuffed Onions
Serves 6 to 8

I recently visited my family in Croatia and was wildly impressed when my cousin’s one-year-old, Ottilia, sat down to a dinner of puréed spinach and hake, a whitefish found in northern oceans. The adults were served a bowl of bean soup, but secretly I wanted nothing more than a spoonful of the baby’s meal. Using her dinner as inspiration, I put together the recipe for these stuffed onions.

In many cultures it’s very common to used mashed potatoes as some sort of filling. Whole onions are steamed until softened and then split on one side, making way for stuffing, which consists of near-equal parts cabbage, potato, and smoked fish. Use any fish you like—salt cod, salmon, trout, or haddock work equally well—and roast until the onions turn brown. This unpretentious dish smacks of country cooking—simple and hearty.

8 small onions, peeled, roots and stems removed
1½ pounds potatoes, cut into small pieces
½ teaspoon salt
About 10 ounces cabbage, cut into ½-inch ribbons
1 pound smoked fish
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Olive oil for drizzling

Put the onions in a large pot and cover with water. Set the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, until the outer layer of the onions can be pierced with a knife. (The onions will still have some give.) Remove from the heat and strain, setting the onions aside to cool.

While the onions are cooling, in another large pot, set the potatoes and salt over high heat and bring to a boil. When boiling, reduce to a low boil and cook until the potatoes are soft, about 25 minutes. Put all of the cabbage on top of the boiling potatoes and cover, cooking until the cabbage is completely soft, about 15 minutes more. Turn off the burner and strain the potatoes and cabbage, then place the pot back on the warm burner to evaporate any residual heat. Stir often, so you don’t burn the mixture. Eventually the burner will cool down and the potato-cabbage mixture will continue steaming out water.

Meanwhile, prepare the smoked fish by mashing or chopping it into small pieces. I like to tear it, using my fingers so there are some smaller bits as well as some larger chunks. Add the fish and black pepper to the potato-cabbage mixture and stir to combine.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Using a small pairing knife, hold a cooled onion in the palm of your hand and slice through halfway, creating a seam down only one side of the onion. Continue like this until all of the onions are split. Then gently pry apart the onions into pieces, so you have several split layers. Holding one layer in the palm of your hand, use a small spoon to add filling until the onion is just full but you can still overlap the seam slightly. Place the filled onion, seam side down, in a roasting pan. Continue in this fashion until all of the onions are full or you run out of filling.         

Drizzle olive oil over the onions in a roasting pan and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the onion tops are golden brown and beginning to char. I like mine very charred, so I leave them in longer. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving.

PANTRY NOTE: The potato-cabbage filling and the onions can be made a day in advance and held in the fridge. Any leftover filling can be used as a filling for bread or a savory pie. Leftovers can be held in the fridge for three days and reheated, but whole cooked onions do not freeze well, so plan to eat what you make.