Vidalia Onions

Ode to the Onion, May We Weep with Joy

Vidalia, I a-peel to thee, oh Georgia’s springtime fruit,

Thou art our southern soil’s most sublime root.

Rescue my hors d’oeuvre from meager acclaim

Then save my salad from wilting shame.

Please deliver my soup from an ordinary fate

And emancipate my entrée from a banal plate,

For thou art nature’s way of marrying discreet,

The opposing flavors of bitter and sweet.

Join my recipes for all to savor

Your layered sweetness and piquant flavor.

I believe a Vidalia onion can make most anything good, so I’m pleased to report that it’s almost crying time again. My beloved tearjerker, the genuine jewel of South Georgia will hit the shelves and roadside stands anew in just a few weeks. I’m preparing for the 2009 Vidalia introduction by re-visiting a favorite recipe that has always pleased friends and family.

A delightful, Southern woman named Janet Hinefield gave this recipe to me. Janet is a gem, and a bit of a belle. She grew up in South Georgia and has lived her entire adult life in Atlanta. Janet spent many years as manager of the art books section at the beloved, and now sorely missed, Oxford Books. Since then she has kept her place as a local literary bookmark, of sorts, as a volunteer docent at the Margaret Mitchell House. It is gratifying to think that Janet is one of the people to greet visitors to Atlanta at the Margaret Mitchell House. I suspect she makes them believe that there is still something known as Southern hospitality.

Onion Shortcake

For the cake:

  • 1 medium-large Vidalia onion
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 small can of creamed corn
  • ½ cup of cheddar cheese (you may substitute with reduced fat cheese)
  • 1 tbsp Tabasco sauce (or other hot sauce)
  • 1 tsp. of vegetable oil (preferably Canola)

For The Topping

  • 1 cup sour cream (you may substitute with reduced fat)
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese
  • ¼ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Dice the onion, then sauté with butter in a skillet (preferably iron, so you can bake the shortcake in the same pan) until the onion is translucent. Combine the remaining ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl and add one half of the sautéed onion to the mix, then stir together just until all ingredients are thoroughly blended.

Scrape remaining onion out of the iron skillet and set aside. Add the vegetable oil to the skillet and place the skillet in the preheated oven. Let the skillet warm for 3-5 minutes, remove it and fill it with the batter for the shortcake. In a small bowl, mix the topping ingredients (sour cream, cheddar cheese and the remaining onion). Spread the topping evenly, but lightly, over the shortcake batter and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Leftovers will keep well in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. Wrap the shortcake in foil and bake at about 250 degrees until warm for best re-heating results.

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Terri Evans

Terri Evans

Terri Evans is 25+year marketing communications professional, a partner at LeslieEvansCreative and Bcauz marketing (cause-related). She has been a food columnist for Atlanta Intown and Atlanta Buckhead newspapers, and a contributing writer for Georgia Magazine, the Atlanta Business Chronicle and other publications. Evans was also a finalist in a Southern Living cooking competition. She is (and has long been) at work on a novel set in the South (of Georgia) and the South (of France). She's always cookin' up somethin'.