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Sweet Onions and Rice

Serves: Makes 12 servings

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 4 large (1-pound) sweet onions, quartered and cut into ¼-inch slices
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 8 ounces Jarlsberg or other Swiss-style cheese, grated
  • ⅔ cup half-and-half
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Procedures:

This easy baked side dish has graced our dinner table for years; I’m sure your family will love it too. Sweet onions are, thankfully, available nearly year-round now, between Walla Wallas from my corner of the country, Vidalias from Georgia, Maui sweets from Hawaii, and sweet onions from south of the equator as well.
One characteristic of sweet onions is that they are typically higher in water content than regular onions, so they often produce juicy results when sautéed (particularly in the volume here). This water content will vary with the season and different varieties, however. After sautéing, you should have about 1 cup of liquid in the pot, which will be needed to ensure enough moisture for the rice to bake. Add water as needed to reach 1 cup liquid before you add the half-and-half and cheese.
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish.


  2. Melt the butter in a very large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, for about 30 minutes, until the onions are tender and translucent but not browned, and they have released quite a bit of liquid. (The volume will have reduced by about half.)


  3. While the onions are cooking, bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the rice and boil for 5 minutes, just to partly soften. Drain.


  4. Remove the onion pan from the heat and eyeball the amount of liquid at the bottom; add water as needed so there is about 1 cup of liquid. Add the drained rice, all but ½ cup of the cheese, the half-and-half, salt, and pepper. Stir until well blended. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for about 1 hour, until the rice is fully tender. Remove the foil and sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup cheese. Continue baking, uncovered, about 20 minutes longer, until the cheese is fully melted. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

by Sur La Table & Renée Behnke

 
 
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