A trip to the farmers market is all you need to stimulate your taste buds. I was buying some fresh corn from William Fletcher, of the Fletcher Family Farm, when I spotted the baskets of onions. On inquiring if they were sweet onions, he replied they were sweet and called them “Ponchatoula Sweets.” He said he planted and grew these hybrid yellow granex onions next to his strawberries. They got the same watering and fertilization his strawberries got.
The yellow granex hybrid is the same as the famous, trademarked Vidalia onion, but Vidalia onions, by law, have to come from a specific area of Georgia.
Fletcher told me strawberry farmers lay their fields out in rows divisible by six. That’s because row covers can be “stretched” over six rows of berries to protect the plants from frost or freezing temperatures. Depending on the shape of the acreage, you don’t always end up with an even six rows at the other end of the field; you might have two to five rows left over and that’s where he planted his onions. The main downside of these sweet onions is that they have a short shelf life, about 30 to 45 days maximum.
He told me the night before his wife caramelized a skilletful of the onions and put them on top of pork chops. That’s what I came home and did for this recipe.
Slow caramelization of onions brings out their sweetness. Serve caramelized onions with meat or poultry, as a spread on top of toasted baguette, pizza or with cheese. The sweet, jamlike flavor is good with almost anything. Caramelizing is nothing but slow browning to draw out the sugars. Any onion can be caramelized (red, yellow, white or sweet).
It does take time to properly caramelize onions, so do this when you’re not having to put a meal on the table in 20 minutes. You can caramelize onions and put them in a jar for later use if you prefer.
I served a spoonful of caramelized onion over bone-in pork chops. The chops were browned, then baked in the oven with a can of French onion soup. Look for the low-sodium soup if you’re watching salt content. Caramelized onions on the side of grilled pork chops is also hard to beat.Corinne Cook is a columnist for The Advocate. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.