Baked stuffed onions make a nice winter entree, especially when served with roasted root vegetables. To make this dish vegetarian, substitute additional mushrooms or cooked farro for the sausage.
Make Ahead: The onions can be assembled up to two days in advance.
- 6 large white onions, peeled
- 1 1/2 pounds Swiss chard, center veins removed and cleaned well (12 cups packed)
- 3/4 pound Italian sausage , mild or hot
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 12 ounces cremini mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and diced
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 3 medium cloves garlic, chopped
- 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 3 cups panko bread crumbs
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a baking dish with nonstick cooking oil spray.
Cut a half-inch from the top of each onion and trim the bottom just enough so the onion stands upright and even. Use a melon baller to scoop out the onions' insides, leaving the two outer layers intact and reserving the scooped-out flesh.
Place the hollowed-out onions in the prepared baking dish and roast them for 40 to 45 minutes, until they are fork tender on the inside. Remove them from the oven and reduce the heat to 350 degrees.
Chop the reserved onions.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add the chard and cook for 5 minutes. Pour into a colander to drain, and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking process. Squeeze the water from the chard, then chop the chard.
Cook the sausage in a small pan over medium heat until cooked through, using a flat-edged wooden spatula to break it into little pieces. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage to a large bowl.
Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. When it is very hot, spread the chopped onions evenly in the saute pan and let them sit untouched for a couple of minutes. Drizzle the oil evenly over them and dot them with butter. Do not stir them for several minutes. (The idea is to let some of the onion’s moisture evaporate and to get some good color on the onions at the start. Once you stir, water will be released, and the caramelizing will end until that water evaporates.)
Season the onions well with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are golden brown, about 4 minutes.
Add the mushrooms and cook for another couple of minutes, stirring often. Add the reserved chard. Stir in the cream and cook for 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to the bowl with the sausage and add the garlic, cheese, panko and oregano. Stir to combine well.
Holding an onion in the palm of one hand, spoon some of the sausage mixture into it and press it in to give the onion a full, round shape. Mound more of the mixture on top of the onion to make a generous portion. Repeat to stuff all of the onions.
Return the onions to the baking dish and bake for 45 minutes, until well browned.
From The Process columnist David Hagedorn.
Tested by David Hagedorn.
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