Monday, April 21, 2014

Don’t cry for me, Vidalia!

            There’s a region in Georgia that will make you cry.
            Actually, it’s like a good love story. Oh so sweet to the taste but invariably causes tears.
            We’re talking about Vidalia, Georgia, and the surrounding 20-county region of south Georgia that produces the sweetest onions in the country. These delicious onions produced by a unique combination of soil and climate produce exquisite dishes because of that fine marriage of sweetness and tangy.
Vidalia Onion Festival
            Visitors can enjoy these fabulous onions during the 37th Annual Vidalia Onion Festival April 24-27, 2014, in Vidalia. There will be carnival rides, band competition, a folklife play taking the stage for the 10th year, street dance and much more. On Sunday it’s the third annual Golden Onion Cooking Competition between 12 of the state’s finest chefs with the first place winner taking home the Golden Onion trophy along with a cash prize.
            Past winners include Chef Hilary White, owner and executive chef of The Hil: A Restaurant at Serenbe in Chattahoochee Hills, Ga., for her recipe “Caramelized Vidalia Onion Fritter, Serenbe Farm Vegetable Slaw and Mustard Vinaigrette,” and Chef Daniel Chance, executive chef of Campagnolo in Atlanta for his recipe “Scallop Stuffed Vidalia with Onion Purée.”
            For more details, including a complete outline of each day's festivities, visit:
            I was fortunate to visit the area during the harvest of those famous Georgia onions and I not only watched those sweet onions being harvested but sampled an array of dishes that incorporated them, including a cheesecake topped by carmelized Vidalia onions! These unique onions are perfect in a variety of dishes, especially where something sweet yet tangy makes all the difference.  One of the many products I sampled while in Georgia was Braswell’s, which creates delicious jams, marinades, vinaigrettes, relish and much more, packaged in Italian glass that resembles the old jam jars (hey, I’m using mine for glasses!). My favorite since I’m a fan of the Vidalia onion is Braswell’s Select Vidalia Onion Relish, and I nabbed this nifty recipe incorporating that relish off their web site. To find a market close to you that sells Braswell’s, visit

That's me with Yumion the Onion!
Turkey Sliders with Vidalia Onion Relish
2 pounds ground turkey
1 jar Braswell's Select Vidalia Onion Relish
16 slider rolls
            Directions: Place ground turkey in a medium bowl and gently fold in Braswell’s Select Vidalia Onion Relish (over mixing will make sliders tough). Roll 2 ounces of meat mixture into a small ball and flatten to make patty. Grill, flipping once, until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees (about three minutes per side). Place sliders on warm buns and top with lettuce, tomato and your favorite condiments. Makes 16 sliders.

 And here’s the 2013 Golden Onion winner Chef Daniel Chance’s recipe.

Scallop Stuffed Vidalia with Onion Purée
1 Vidalia onion
1 U-10 scallop
2 anchovy filets
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon pickling spice
1/2 stick butter (cold)
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

            Directions: Cut top and bottom off onion and peel. Strip layer by layer until interior is the same size as the scallop. Carefully cut out the core of the onion leaving a two-layer onion ring. Season the scallop with salt and pepper and insert scallop in the onion ring. Separate onion trimmings and place 3/4 of them into a sauce pot with the anchovy and clove of garlic.  Sauté with butter. Take remaining onion and place in non-reactive bowl. Heat vinegar, sugar, water and pickling spice in second sauce pot. Bring to a boil then pour over chopped onion in bowl. Heat frying pan and sear scallop in-onion with olive oil creating a hard sear on both sides and set aside. Place sautéed onion, anchovy and garlic in blender and purée (add cold butter). Plate onion purée. Place seared scallop in the center and pickled onion on top. Use green onion tops (if available) for garnish.

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