If you are living in Georgia or in any of the nearby states, you probably are familiar with Vidalia onions. If not, allow me to explain: Vidalia is a small town in South Georgia and it is known for its onions. What makes these onions so special and popular is that they are so sweet. According the Wikipedia, the reason why they are unusually sweet is because of the low amount of sulfur in the soil in which they are grown. Some people even say that they can eat it like they would eat apples. Now, I am not sure if I would go that far, but I am a big fan too. And that is not just because they are truly delicious and widely abundant, but also because my husband is from this small town.
Last month, when he went down to visit his mother for Mother’s Day, I asked him to bring me some Vidalia onions so that I can make this Lamb and Apricot Stuffed Roasted Onion recipe that I have been eyeing for some time now. Neither the onions nor the recipe disappoint. It ended up being a delicious weeknight recipe that I know I will be making often.
About the recipe:
I know that I have been raving about Vidalia onions here, but you can make these with regular onions as well. What I would suggest is to make sure they are the freshest onions that you can find. I also recommend that you pick onions that are similar in size. I personally prefer 6 small/medium-sized onions for this recipe, but 4 big onions would work as well.
It would be a lie if I were to tell you that I did not think that it would be hard to figure out how to scoop the insides without ruining the outer layers. However, after the first onion I was able to get a hold of it pretty quickly. The trick is to use a small and sturdy teaspoon-measure spoon, or even better, a melon baller. As long as you are not rushing and gentle it is pretty easy. Once I got a hold of it I was able to get all six onions ready in 10 minutes.
In my opinion, the filling in this recipe is what makes it so special. I can easily eat it with a spoon all by itself. The lamb that is flavored with cumin and cinnamon becomes so moist after sautéed with the leftover onions. Plus, the sweet apricots simmered in chicken stock plays off the rich gaminess of the meat and balances so well with all the spices and fresh herbs added at the end.
You can prep the onions and make the filling a day in advance. On the day you want to serve, just stuff the onions with the filling and top them off with breadcrumbs and fresh herbs. After it is baked for 40 minutes, you have a gourmet style dinner on the table.
On Styling and Photography for this post:
Props and styling: I bought the big oval dish years ago from a house ware store in Tortola, BVI. Unfortunately, there is no brand name on it. The plates with brown corners is from Jono Pandolfi. As the backdrop I used a large cut of Osnaburg fabric.
Photography: I took all these photos with my Canon EOS 5D Mark III using either my Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 or Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens . I did not use any of the VSCO filters that I usually use in my photography as none of them looked good. Instead, I brought down the highlights, shadows, and blacks and increased the whites in Lightroom.
If you want to see the exposure values for each photo and more photos from this shoot, check out(and follow) my Flickr account.
Lamb and Apricot Stuffed Roasted Onions
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
- Yield: 4
- Category: Dinner
- Cuisine: Middle Eastern
- 6 medium size (about 3 pounds) onions, preferably Vidalia onions
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 cup (about 15) dried apricots, cut into small pieces
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, divided
- 1/2 pound ground lamb
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoons Italian parsley, roughly chopped – divided
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped – divided
- 2 tablespoons bread crumbs or Panko bread crumbs
- To prep the onions, gently remove the outer skin of the onion. Cut about 1 inch off the top and just enough off the bottom so that the onion stands upright. Discard both the top and bottom parts. Using a melon baller or a teaspoon-size measure spoon, scoop out the center, leaving two outer layers of the onion intact. Repeat the same process for the rest of the onions. Place the onion shells in a baking dish (11X7 or an oval dish similar to mine). Finely chop the insides. Set aside.
- Pre-heat the oven to 400 F degrees.
- In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock, apricots, and lemon zest over medium heat until it is reduced to 1/2 cup liquid, about 10-13 minutes.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium size skillet over medium heat. Add in the chopped onion and cook until it is translucent. Stir in the lamb, cinnamon, cumin, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the lamb is crumbly, 8-9 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour the apricot-stock mixture into the now-cooked lamb. Stir in 2 tablespoons of Italian parsley and 2 tablespoons of fresh mint into the mixture. Allow it to cool for 10 minutes on the counter.
- Mix together the breadcrumbs with the rest of the parsley and mint. Cut the remaining two tablespoons butter into small cubes.
- Fill each onion with the lamb mixture, pressing down with your hands to pack it all in. Sprinkle each with the crumb-herb topping and dot with butter cubes.
- Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 more minutes, until the breadcrumbs turn golden brown.
- Serve immediately.
This recipe is adapted (with minor changes) from Michael Schwartz and Joann Cianciulli’s cookbook Michael’s Genuine Food: Down-to-Earth Cooking for People Who Love to Eat.
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