Recently, I perfected my southern drawl in Georgia. As a Texan, we have our own twang to the way we talk but nothing like our friends to the east and I was crazy excited to get a chance to visit Georgia and get my deep south on. I was there to witness the famous Vidalia Onion harvest, thanks to the Vidalia Onion Committee, and was it ever an experience. I’ve been on quite a few farm tours and I have to say, it was a treat to have such fabulous hospitality and open arms as we found from the farmers in Vidalia. They’re fiercely proud of what they do and not afraid to take you in to show you why they love their fields.
For the harvest, we stopped by McLain Farms, a family run Vidalia Onion farm. The McLain’s have been growing onions since 1985 and have both conventional and organic varieties. I instantly fell in love with the farm — it’s simply gorgeous. While I was there I discovered a few interesting facts about onions, especially Vidalia Onions. For example, what makes an onion a Vidalia onion is the perfect combination of weather and low sulfur soil that Vidalia has to offer. This creates a sweet delicious onion perfect for grilling, baking, roasting, eating it plain and simple, and even hand pies. Yes, hand pies.
Ever been curious of how a Vidalia Onion gets to your table? It’s a year-long process believe it or not! It all starts by planting a seed, a yellow granex hybrid, in a seed bed and then carefully transplanting the seedlings into the fields to mature. Once they mature and are ready to harvest, the onions are picked and allowed to dry in the fields for a number of days before being transported in large crates to drying rooms where they develop that protective yellow skin we’re used to. Next, they are sorted by size and quality and then every onion gets about 14 to 20 photos taken of it. After that, each onion is given a tracking number and packaged to be sent to you…
So you can make a hand pie.
A glorious sweet Vidalia (Vi·dale·ya – see what I did there – drag out the dale and you got yourself a beautiful southern drawl) Onion hand pie where the onions have been seductively caramelized and reduced in a creamy dark brown double stout, stuffed into a buttery pastry dough with sharp cheddar cheese and a hint of thyme, then baked to perfection. But you must jump on it now, because Vidalia onion season doesn’t last long!
Vidalia is a delicious little town nestled in Georgia and hopefully I’ll get to return and visit my new friends one day but for now I’ve got pounds upon pounds of onions to cook. So, I leave you with this recipe that was inspired by my time in the Vidalia Onion fields and hope you’ll try it for yourself because these hand pies are amazingly good.
Stout Caramelized Onion Hand Pies
Sweet Vidalia Onions caramelized to perfection then reduced in a toasty dark stout, combined with sharp cheddar cheese, a hint of thyme, and wrapped in a buttery salty pie crust makes the most legendary hand pies you’ve ever experienced.
It all starts with quickly combining cold butter, salt, and flour to create a dough.
Next, on to the onions where we slice them up and carmalize them in a little olive oil and butter.
Then we put a rich stout beer over the onions to degalze the pan and reduce into a nice glaze that pairs perfectly with those sweet Vidalia Onions.
While the onions are cooling, we roll out the chilled dough and cut out 5-inch rounds for our hand pies.
Then on to the filling, folding, and the oven.
And that’s all there is to it.
giveaway – $500 gift certificate
WAIT! I completely forgot to tell you something! Because I love you and because the Vidalia Onion Committee is very generous, we would like to give one of you a $500.00 gift certificate to Sur la Table and a Vidalia Onion Swag Bag so you too can create in the kitchen with Vidalia Onions. Maybe grab yourself a food processor so you can make pie dough in a snap…you know for Stout Caramelized Onion Hand Pies — just a thought.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Sweet Vidalia Onions caramelized to perfection then reduced in a toasty dark stout, combined with sharp cheddar cheese, a hint of thyme, and wrapped in a buttery salty pie crust makes the most legendary hand pies you've ever experienced.
- In a food processor, pulse to combine flour and salt. Add chilled butter and pulse until a coarse meal forms. Add water and pulse until the dough just starts to comes together and can be pinched with your fingers. Add more water by the spoonful, if needed. You can also do this by hand in a bowl with a pastry cutter. Form the dough into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours until firm. Can be made up to 2 days in advance.
- Peel and slice onions 1/8-inch thick. Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and saute, stirring frequently, until the onions turn dark golden brown; about 20-25 minutes.
- Once the onions are caramelized, add stout. Using a wooden spoon, scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the skillet. Reduce the stout until there isn't any liquid in the skillet and the onions are thick. Set aside to cool.
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper, if desired.
- Working on a floured surface, roll the dough out until it is 1/8-inch thick. Using a 5-inch round pastry cutter, the lip of a small bowl also works, cut 5-inch circles out of the dough. You will need 6 rounds, so you will have to gather the dough and roll it out once again to get enough pastry rounds. Place the rounds on a baking sheet.
- Place a large pinch of cheddar cheese on one side of each round. Place a large spoonful of caramelized onions on top of the cheese and then top with a pinch of fresh thyme leaves.
- Using a pastry brush or your fingertip, brush the edge of the pastry rounds with the egg wash. Fold the dough over to create a half moon shape and seal by pressing together firmly with your fingertips. You can also use the tip of a fork to crimp the edges to seal. Brush the tops of the hand pies with egg wash and sprinkle with a pinch of flaked sea salt - don't skip the salt, it's amazing. With a knife, make a small slit on the top of the pies to allow heat to escape when baking.
- Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until golden. Serve.
by Meredith Steele
- For the stout, we used a Deep Ellum Double Brown Stout but any dry stout will do.
- Serve with a whole grain Dijon mustard, of desired.