TENNESSEE ONIONS

“Tennessee Onions” is a rich and flavorful dish that hails from the Southern United States, particularly celebrated in Tennessee. This recipe is a delightful showcase of onions transformed into a decadent side dish, often praised for its savory, sweet, and creamy profile. At its core, the dish features several types of onions – typically a mix of sweet onions like Vidalia, red onions, and white onions. These onions are peeled and sliced into thick rounds, then layered in a baking dish, creating a visually appealing stratification of colors and textures.

The real magic of Tennessee Onions lies in the seasoning and creamy components that are added. Each layer of onions is generously seasoned with a blend of salt, pepper, and often a hint of garlic powder or minced fresh garlic for an extra punch of flavor. Some variations of the recipe include a sprinkle of herbs like thyme or rosemary to introduce a fragrant, earthy element.

The layers are then adorned with pats of butter and sometimes a drizzle of olive oil, which help the onions caramelize and soften as they bake, turning golden and tender. The dish is renowned for its rich topping, typically a mixture of cheeses – cheddar and parmesan are popular choices, offering a sharp, nutty flavor that complements the sweetness of the onions. In some versions, a mixture of sour cream or mayonnaise is also spread over the top, adding a tangy, creamy layer that bakes to a delightful golden-brown crust.

Tennessee Onions are baked uncovered in the oven until the onions are meltingly soft and the top is bubbly and browned, a process that takes about an hour. The result is a harmonious blend of sweet, savory, and creamy flavors with a variety of textures from the silky soft onions to the crispy, cheesy topping. This dish is often served as a beloved side at Southern gatherings, barbecues, and potlucks, pairing wonderfully with grilled meats, poultry, or as a rich addition to a vegetarian feast. Its comfort food appeal and the simplicity of its preparation have made it a cherished recipe in many Southern kitchens.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large sweet onions (such as Vidalia)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Peel the onions and cut them into thick slices, approximately 1/2 inch (1.27 cm) thick. Separate the slices into rings and place them in a single layer in a baking dish.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the shredded cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, grated Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. This creates a flavorful cheesy topping.
  4. Spoon the cheese mixture evenly over the onion slices, covering them with the mixture.
  5. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes.
  6. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until the onions are tender, and the top is golden and bubbling.
  7. If desired, garnish with chopped fresh parsley for added color and flavor.
  8. Serve hot as a savory side dish that complements various main courses.
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