Sunday, October 20, 2013

Roasted Sweet Onions Stuffed with Lamb and Apricots

These delicious stuffed onions were merely one component of a Mediterranean medley. You can read about the golden barley pilaf here and I'll share the cucumber and yogurt salad below. But I'd like to focus on this delightful combination of sweet and savory.

If we deem vidalia onions the vessel, then lamb, apricots, mint, and parsley are the precious cargo. The original recipe called from ground lamb, but the market was out of it, so I substituted for diced, seasoned, and browned lamb chops. It worked out beautifully.

And the final meal...

I just made two stuffed onions, but enough filling for four (...the extra was handily disposed.) I'll post the recipe serving four to corroborate more with the golden barley pilaf.

Roasted Sweet Onions Stuffed with Lamb and Apricots (via Leite's Culinaria)
Serves 4. 

1 1/2 cups chicken stock 
1/2 cup dried apricots (about 16), cut into 1/4-inch pieces 
1 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest 
4 smallish Vidalia or other sweet onions (about 3 pounds), unpeeled 
5 tablespoons unsalted butter 
1/2 pound lamb chops, diced
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1 teaspoon ground cumin 
1 teaspoon kosher salt 
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
3 or 4 shakes sriracha 
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint 
2 tablespoons fresh bread crumbs
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C) In a small pot over medium heat, combine the stock, apricots, and lemon zest. Gently simmer until the apricots are plump and the liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup, roughly 10 minutes.
2. Without peeling the onions, cut about 1 inch off the tops and just-
enough off the bottoms that each onion stands upright. Reserve the onion tops and discard the bottoms. Remove all but the outer two layers of each 
onion by scooping out the centers with a spoon or melon baller, reserving the insides. Set the onion shells in a baking dish along with the tops. Finely chop the insides.
3. Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Stir in almost all of the chopped onions, reserving some for another use, and cook until softened, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the lamb, cinnamon, and cumin and season with the salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook, continually stirring with a wooden spoon, until the lamb is crumbly, 7 to 8 minutes. Do not drain the rendered fat; it’s needed to keep the onions moist and to impart a luscious unctuousness to the overall dish. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the apricot mixture and its liquid, hot sauce to taste, and the parsley and mint. Let cool slightly. (The lamb filling can easily be prepared a day in advance, covered, and refrigerated.)
4. Spoon some of the lamb mixture into each of the hollowed-out onions, pressing down with your hands and mounding it over the onions. Sprinkle the 
bread crumbs over the onions and dot with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake until tender, 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the size. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the bread crumbs are brown, about 10 minutes more. Serve immediately.

Cucumber and Yogurt Salad
Serves 4.
1 English cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 tablespoon dried dillweed
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, tossing lightly until cucumber slices are evenly coated. Serve. 

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