Onions are an assertive ingredient, usually used to bring either aggressive astringency or deep, developed umami to a dish. A baked onion, however, does neither, and it still manages to be one of my favourite onions. Butter-baked onions are soft and sweet, with a brothy savouriness that reads almost like French onion soup. It’s a homey, comforting side dish, and it only requires three ingredients.
Traditionally Vidalia onions are favoured for this preparation, but any mild or sweet onion will do. The peeled, slightly cored allium is stuffed with butter and your favourite stock, then baked until it is falling-apart soft. There’s no charring, no caramelising—just a humble, retrained allium, gently cooked in the laziest compound butter. To make it, you will need:
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon butter
1 stock cube (any flavour)
Cut the root end off of the onion so it stands up on its own, peel the skin off, then core a substantial chunk out of the top of the onion with a pairing knife; you just need enough space for about a tablespoon and a half of ingredients.
Mash the butter and stock together, then stuff it inside its new home.
Wrap the onion in foil, gathering it at the top so it looks a metal onion.
Pop the little package in a 180-degree Celsius oven for 60-70 minutes, until it is soft and supple.
Slice into it, and watch the tender slices melt into a pile.
Baked onions can serve as a standalone side, but I’ve recently taken to throwing them into whatever pan sauce I happen to be making with dinner. Last night, after deglazing a pork chop pan with a little almost-oxidised vermouth, I added the onion (and its stock-y juices) to the pan—and folks, it’s a move I will definitely be repeating.