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Cooking with onions can be easy as pie
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Vidalia Onion Pie.
Vidalia Onion Pie
8 slices bacon
1 large thinly sliced Vidalia onion
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
salt and pepper
1/4 cup grated Swiss cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 9-inch unbaked pie shell
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Fry the bacon and saute the onion in the bacon drippings. In a mixing bowl crumble the bacon and mix with the sauteed onion. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture. In a small mixing bowl beat the eggs and add the milk. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the cheeses over the bottom of the pie shell. Spread the bacon mixture evenly over the cheeses. Cover with the milk mixture. Bake for 1 hour. Yield: Four to five servings.
“The Blue Willow Inn Bible of Southern Cooking”

Oven-Baked Spicy Onion Rings with Red Pepper Chutney
For the onion rings:
¾ cup self-rising cornmeal mix
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
¼ cup milk
1 egg white
2 large Vidalia onions
¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted (or non-stick cooking spray)
Salt to taste
For the Red Pepper Chutney:
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup diced Vidalia onion
½ cup chopped grape or cherry tomatoes
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
¾ cup chopped marinated roasted red peppers
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Heat oven to 450 F. Oil two baking sheets (or bake rings in batches on one sheet). In a large plastic bag, combine cornmeal mix, pepper, paprika and cayenne; seal and shake to blend dry mixture. In a large bowl, beat the milk and egg white until blended. Peel the Vidalia onions and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices; separate the slices into individual rings. (Reserve the onion centers for another use.)
Toss the onion rings in the milk mixture. Transfer to the plastic bag, seal, and shake until onion rings are lightly coated with cornmeal mixture. Shake off excess coating and arrange onion rings in a single layer on baking sheets. With a pastry brush, dab melted butter on the rings (or lightly coat with cooking spray).
Bake rings for 12 minutes. Turn with a spatula, brush with any remaining butter, and return rings to the oven for eight to 10 minutes longer or until browned and crisp. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot with Red Pepper Chutney.
To prepare the Red Pepper Chutney, in a non-reactive saucepan, heat two tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook 3 minutes or until softened. Add the tomatoes, garlic, vinegar and sugar; simmer five minutes. Stir in the red pepper and cook covered, over low heat for five minutes. Transfer mixture to a food processor fitted with a chopping blade, add the remaining tablespoon olive oil and the black pepper; process briefly until mixture is a coarse puree. Cool to room temperature. Makes 1 ½ cups. Serves 6.
The Vidalia Onion Committee

Onions can come sliced on subs and burgers, chopped for a crunchy topping on hotdogs or golden fried into a traditional onion ring.
As onions creep into grocery stores in time for cook-out weather, we thought we would take a look at this sometimes tear-inducing vegetable.

But consider this nontraditional use for a few onions: The Southern favorite also can be sautéed and mixed with crumbled bacon for a heavenly Vidalia Onion Pie.

Several years ago, Ellen Hester of Monroe submitted the onion pie recipe that she found in a Macon cookbook, to be printed in “The Blue Willow Inn Bible of Southern Cooking” cookbook.

Apparently, they liked it, too.

“I used to live in Crawford County, which is close to Macon,” said Hester, who was invited to The Blue Willow Inn in Social Circle to receive one of the first copies of the book. “My son who actually died four years ago, this was his favorite recipe on earth and I had tried lots of Vidalia Onion recipes but this one he just could not eat it enough. The sentimental part of it for me is how much he enjoyed it.

“All of my children love it,” she added. “In fact, my entire family enjoyed that recipe ... and I’ve never found another one quite like it.”

To create the onion masterpiece, onions are sauteed in bacon drippings, mixed with flour and placed over grated Swiss and Parmesan cheese in a pie shell. It’s baked for one hour.

“It’s really like a quiche but I’ve always used it as a side instead of a meal and I’ve served it with steak,” she said. “It doesn’t sound like it goes together, but I’ve used it with steak rather than a potato.”

Hester added that Vidalia onions must be used for the pie. She also uses a thin cut of bacon and doesn’t bother with making a pie shell from scratch — Pillsbury works just fine, she said.

“You cannot make a homemade crust better,” Hester said.

But if the time that goes into the onion pie isn’t your style, there is the old standby of pulling out the Fry Daddy and cooking up some onion rings.

Locally, many greasy spoon-type eateries have onion rings but finding ones that are homemade is more difficult. So, don’t be shy about buying that bag of frozen onion rings and enjoying onions fried as an easy side dish.

“It’s too labor intensive (and) you don’t necessarily get the consistency,” said Derek Robertson owner of Dylan’s Place in Gainesville, when asked why they don’t hand-batter the onion rings. “We fry them for about two minutes, until they float to the top.”
Serve them up in a basket plain or with a condiment, he added.

“The are dipped in ketchup, if anything,” Robertson said.

To take a little fat and calories out of the recipe you could try the Vidalia Onion Committee’s Oven-Baked Spicy Onion Rings With Red Pepper Chutney.

Cornmeal and spices are mixed in a plastic bag for the breading; the onions are dipped in a milk and egg white wash and then dunked in the breading. 

Then bake the onion rings, which are topped off with a dab of melted butter, for about 12 minutes on each side.

The red pepper chutney dipping sauce is a mixture of tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, sugar and red pepper that are cooked and put in a food processor with olive oil and black pepper.

According to the Vidalia Onion Committee, the sweet onions will be available this month and will be painstakingly harvested by hand.

“So far they are looking good this year and should be ready and in the stores next week,” said Clifton Standard, manager at Wayne Durrence Farms in Glennville.

And remember, there are reasons why Vidalia onions are so special.

“No. 1, it is restricted to where it can be grown in the United States,” Standard said. “We have approximately 20 counties here in the state of Georgia where they are grown, which gives us a little of edge over the Texas Sweet. But they still don’t come up to a Vidalia sweet.”

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