Holiday dinners call for stepped-up sides like this one. You start with sweet yellow onions, hollowed out and baked in a roasting pan with stock until browned and tender. Meanwhile, make a stuffing of salt pork or bacon, a bit of minced jalapeño, toasted pecans, and crumbled cornbread. Stuff the roasted onions and bake until the filling is heated through. Be sure you buy large onions of a consistent size, and don’t forget to make a batch of our Basic Skillet Cornbread up to two days before you begin.
- Yield: 12 servings
- Difficulty: Medium
- Total: 1 hr 15 mins
- Active: 30 mins
- 6 large yellow onions
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 12 ounces salt pork or bacon, medium dice (about 1 cup)
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic (from about 3 medium cloves)
- 2 tablespoons minced jalapeño pepper
- 2 cups pecans, coarsely chopped
- 9 cups cornbread, coarsely crumbled
- Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Slice bottoms (the root end) off onions in order to stabilize them. (Be careful not to cut a hole through the base.) Slice off top third of onions and discard. Peel onions.
- Use a teaspoon to hollow out the onions, removing about 3/4 of the inside and leaving 2 to 3 outer layers intact. Scrape the inside of the onions as you would when making a jack-o’-lantern, so that the onion shells are an even thickness throughout. (Reserve the center of the onions for another use.)
- Place onion shells in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish, dot with butter, and season well with freshly ground black pepper, salt, and cayenne pepper. Add 1/2 cup of the chicken broth and place in the oven to braise, basting occasionally by spooning the liquid over the onions, until completely tender, about 40 minutes. (If making ahead, remove the onions from the baking dish, drain off liquid, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.) Set onions aside.
- Meanwhile, make the stuffing: Bring a small pot of water to a boil over high heat, add salt pork, blanch for 2 minutes, drain well, and set aside. Heat a large Dutch oven or a large, heavy-bottomed pot with a tightfitting lid over medium heat until hot. Add blanched pork and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and jalapeño and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes.
- Add pecans and toast until browned; stir in cornbread and cook another 5 minutes or until completely warmed. Season with freshly ground black pepper and add remaining chicken broth. Remove the pan from heat and mix well.
- Divide stuffing among braised onions (fill them completely) and bake until heated through, about 10 minutes. (Place remaining stuffing in a buttered loaf pan and bake alongside onions until thoroughly heated.)