When we asked Atlanta blogger Mandy Kellogg Rye of Waiting on Martha to develop a recipe for us in honor of Williams-Sonoma’s Ponce City Market store opening, she had just the thing: a Vidalia onion casserole inspired by the South. “I wanted to try a recipe that eases a summertime flavor into fall, and my answer was a recipe for creamed Vidalia onion bake with homemade herb bread crumbs,” she told us.
In this recipe, sweet Vidalia onions, local to Georgia, combine with creamy mushrooms, warming cinnamon, and crisp, herbaceous bread crumbs for the ultimate comforting bite. “Vidalia onions lack the sharp, astringent taste of other onions, and in turn taste sweet,” she explained. It’s worth it to seek them out in specialty supermarkets, but if you can’t locate them, you may substitute yellow onions for a similar result that won’t be quite as sweet.
As for accompaniments, they’re entirely optional. “This Vidalia onion casserole completely stands on its own,” she maintained, “but it would also be the perfect accompaniment for grilled steak, roast chicken, or Thanksgiving dinner.”
Creamed Vidalia Onion Bake
For the herbed bread crumbs:
1/2 loaf fresh French bread, cubed
2 Tbs. olive oil
Leaves from 4 to 6 fresh thyme sprigs, chopped
Leaves from 1 to 2 fresh rosemary sprigs, minced
2 Tbs. herbes de Provence
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 Tbs. olive oil
6 large Vidalia onions, thinly sliced vertically
4 shallots, sliced thinly sliced vertically
1 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1 Tbs. kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) white wine
1 can (10.75 oz./ 305 g) condensed cream of mushroom soup
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1 oz./30 g) grated Parmesan cheese
To make the bread crumbs, preheat an oven to 400°F (200ºC).
In a large mixing bowl, toss the bread cubes with the olive oil, thyme, rosemary and herbes de Provence until the bread is thoroughly coated. Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the bread cubes cool to room temperature. Transfer the bread cubes to a large sealable plastic bag and, using a rolling pin or mallet, crush the cubes into coarse bread crumbs.
Increase the oven temperature to 450°F (220ºC).
In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the butter and olive oil until the butter is melted. Add the onions and shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are slightly softened but not browned, about 7 minutes.
Add the thyme, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 15 minutes; do not allow the onions to brown.
Add wine, increase the heat to medium and bring to a boil. Continue cooking until the wine is almost evaporated, about 5 minutes.
Add the cream of mushroom soup and flour, stir and simmer for 5 minutes.
Transfer the onion mixture to a baking dish, sprinkle with the Parmesan and 1 cup (4 oz./125 g) of the bread crumbs, saving any remaining crumbs for another use. Bake until lightly browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Garnish with additional thyme and serve.