Published on May 2nd, 2018 | by David Morales0
Top Chef Kevin Gillespie talks Vadalia Onions
Sharing ideas on how to incorporate Vidalia Onions into your cooking from a farm in South Georgia, Top Chef Star Kevin Gillespie joins The Hype magazine in a live satellite interview. He shared a recipe and discussed what makes Vadalia Onions so special. It is that time of year and Vadalia Onions are in season! From the farm to your local grocery or restaurant, the 2018 crop of Vadalia Onions are here. It is time to get cooking with these sweet onions thar you love.
What are you preparing for us today?
We’re going to be doing a slow-roasted Vidalia onion soup. That’s kind of for me is the quintessential sort of flavor profile of the Vidalia Onion. It really emphasizes that sweetness that minerality and kind of all the nuance that the onion has. So, it’s really easy to make it home too which is great. It starts with these onions that we have right here these are our full-size Vidalia onions in their jacket or in their skin. We’re going to roast this hole inside sort of a tin foil package and the reason we do that is that we get to benefit from all of that sort of deep caramelization from the roasted onion, but we also hold in all of the juices or the broth that comes from this onion and that really makes for the backbone of our soup.
It’s going to add a lot of dimension to it. So, we wrap them in foil really tight. We roast them at about 350 for probably an hour or an hour and a half until they’re super tender to the touch and so when you open up the package, you got to be careful not to burn yourself, but what you’ll see is this super soft onion, nice and golden-brown and a lot of juice left behind from the onion. So, we’ll tear this root part off the bottom of the onion and then we’ll squeeze it out of its skin or its jacket directly in the blender carafe and we’ll finish our soup in the blender. It’s very simple!!
We’ll add a little bit of mascarpone cheese. I love the milky sweetness of the mascarpone. I think it really complements the onions flavor, but it also adds a creamy element to the soup so that the texture is a little bit nicer in the end. We’ll add a pinch of kosher salt. We’ll add one little small clove of garlic. Just adds a tiny bit of heat or a little bit of spice to this and then some fresh lemon juice to really round out the flavor and contrast the sweetness of the onion and then all we’re going to do here is blend this up and get it nice and smooth, nice and creamy and adjust the consistency as much as we need to with perhaps a little bit of chicken stock or some vegetable broth.
We don’t need very much, just enough to get that nice spoonable consistency that we expect. Then we hold it warm here in our pot. That’s what I have right here and then you can serve this either warm you could serve it cold as well, it’s wonderful cold. Garnish for it — very simple, a little bit of chive and then just to crack a black pepper over this and what that does is that it brings a fresh aspect and a spicy aspect to something that otherwise has the beautiful sweetness that you expect to the first of spring.
What makes Vadalia onions different from other onions?
So, Vadalias are a sweet onion! That’s the style of onion that they are, but Vidalia are markedly sweeter than all the rest of the sweet onions and that’s because of a really interesting makeup that we have here in South Georgia. We have the perfect climate for growing them. We have plenty of water and then we also have a soil that’s very low me and sandy and what it does is that it retains a tremendous amount of mineral content and those onions pick up that minerality. So, what you get is a very low sulfur onion meaning less spicy, less hot, doesn’t make you cry when you cut it, and a natural sweetness.
How long are Vadalia onions in season and available in stores?
So, the season starts today. This is the first official release. What you’ll see in the stores now are officially Vidalia onions and then it goes till probably the end of August or perhaps the beginning of September maybe a little bit later if we’re lucky. They are a seasonal product. They’re not available year-round and I think that’s something folks take for granted. They think onions are always available. Some are Vadalias or not, so definitely get them now. They’re the sort of the signal bearer for bringing in the spring season.
Where can we go for more information?
So, if you guys want more recipes or more information about the growers or the artisans as I think of them, these folks have been hand planting and harvesting for over 80 years now. This is still a labor of love. Go check out vidaliaonion.org and you’ll find those stories and recipes there and then if you want to, follow us on social media. I’m chef Kevin Gillespie on all the platforms and then you can search the hashtag #onlyvidalia, to see more photos of us in the field. See some different dishes that we’re doing and also see some of the faces some of these people who are growing these onions.