In Praise of the Lowly Onion

What is your favorite vegetable? Did you say onions? No? Well, why not? Poor onions. They are either taken for granted or despised. Many a child has picked through their dinner to remove even the smallest piece of onion. Some grown ups think they'd like to do that, too, if only it wasn't so impolite. Not me. I love onions. Always have. As a child, my mother could always tell when I had raided the garden by my onion breath. I'm afraid childhood was not the last time I've had onion breath. But that's fresh onions. Cooked and caramelized onions are even better. I have to believe that most people's objections to onions have more to do with texture than flavor. Because the flavor is quite wonderful. Without onions your savory dishes tend to be vaguely bland. Something just seems to be missing. If you're leaving out onions because of an onion objector, try chopping them very finely. You may find them remarking about how good it tastes!

You might not think of onions as a nutritional powerhouse, but they are high in Vitamin C and a good source of fiber. According to the National Onion Association they contain quercetin, a flavonoid (which is a category of antioxidant compounds)  that may offer some disease prevention and health benefits. 
“Life is like an onion. You peel it off one layer at a time; And sometimes you weep.” -Carl Sandburg, American poet

No vegetable garden would be complete without onions. They are easy to grow and one of the first vegetables to go into the spring garden. By mid to late March we'll be popping little onion sets into the soil. In recent years we've been planting "Candy"onions, a variety that we order from Dixondale Farms. They grow large and sweet in our Kansas soil and they store fairly well, too. We also grow a variety that keeps longer to get us through the holidays. Just as last of last summer's crop of onions, stored all these months in our basement, is used up or has sprouted and been tossed, the Dixondale Farms Catalog arrives. It's time to think of a new crop of onions. 

Our fall and winter menu always includes Baked Barbeque Chicken at least a few times. Spicy and tender, it is an often-requested comfort food. And onions make it good!

Begin with a large onion and coarsely chop it.

Saute chopped onion in 1/4 cup of butter until tender, but not brown. (While onion is sauteing, you may want to prepare the chicken, but I am going to continue with the BBQ sauce recipe in the interest of continuity.)

The sauce ingredients: missing from the photo is the Worcestershire sauce which I was out of and so didn't use. But I missed it and would definitely recommend using. If I have canned tomato sauce from the garden, I use that, but if purchasing tomatoes I prefer crushed tomatoes to tomato sauce.

To sauteed onions, add:
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1 cup water
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon mustard
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
 Gently simmer for 30 minutes.

Prepare chicken:
8 meaty pieces of chicken (I often use thighs)
1 egg
2/3 cup milk (approximate)
1 1/2 cup flour (also approximate)
salt and pepper to taste

Spray a 9X13 pan with cooking spray. In a shallow dish lightly beat egg and add milk. In another shallow dish mix flour with salt and pepper. Remove chicken skin if desired. Dip chicken pieces one at a time into egg mixture, then roll in flour mixture and place in prepared pan. Bake chicken in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes (while sauce is simmering.) Turn chicken and cover with barbeque sauce. Bake an additional 30 minutes. 
I always serve Baked Barbeque Chicken with fried potatoes. After pouring the sauce over the chicken I quickly rinse out the pan and fry the potatoes which are done about the same time as the chicken. The barbeque sauce is great on the the potatoes.
For a printable recipe click here.
Recipe adapted from Christian Home Cookbook, recipe contributed by Mrs. Leo Classen

1 comment:

  1. hmmmmmmmmmmm.....yummy... now i'll have no excuse to make it sometime while I'm here in dallas..


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