Oven-baked dishes are an easy and rewarding way to prepare a meal.
While they’re baking in the oven, this will give you time to check a few more things off your to-do list. For this recipe, the combination of mild onions and savory meat provides a brilliant and aromatic flavor that will wow whoever’s dining at your table.
It’s just the right thing for a cozy dinner at home – rich and flavorful, but so quick and easy to make.
This recipe calls for Spanish onions, and what’s special about them is their size, as well as their taste.
They are larger than other common varieties, and they have a more subtle, light and sweet flavor than the onions that you’re probably used to.
Their juicy but mild flesh makes them perfect for use as a main ingredient in many recipes – but this one is probably my favorite!
The onions are stuffed with ground meat, a rich cream sauce is poured over the top, and they’re baked in the oven – simple as that!
Here are some other ways that I like to use them, for you to try at home:
- Try making a vegetarian version of this dish, and fill the onions with couscous or the grains of your choice instead of meat.
- Slice up some Spanish onions and saute them in a pan with butter or oil and fresh herbs, to serve as a side dish with sausage and mashed potatoes or rice. To figure out which type of vegetable oil is right for the job, take a look at this article.
- Make some extra-large onions rings, dunk the sliced veggies in batter, and deep-fry them.
By the way, their mild aroma also makes them especially suitable for the typically onion adverse, too.
Here’s another idea for a fancy twist on this recipe:
Replace some of the vegetable stock with white wine. Believe me, the depth of flavor that it will add is an excellent companion for the Spanish onions.
Most of the alcohol will burn off as it cooks, but you might want to save this version for when the kiddies aren’t around.
Looking for some suggestions to serve alongside this dish?
I really love to serve some simple long grain rice with it. Mashed potatoes, potato wedges or croquettes (link to recipe?) are perfect pairings, too.
Ready for some more culinary inspiration?
Take a bold step and swap out the onions in this recipe for apples. The juicy, sweet fruit goes so well with the hearty meat filling when it’s baked. You’ll see!
Or, stick with onions but try adding some extra color by using the red variety – the onion flavor might be a little stronger, but they’re definitely eye-catching!
If you’re new to this type of dish in general, pick up on roasted root veggie tips and delicious ideas here. If you’re simply hungry for more roasted veggie versions, don’t miss out on our roasted rosemary carrots!
Not counting baking time, this should take about an hour to put together from start to finish and you’ll have a dish that will amaze your guests and have your family asking for seconds.
- 36 fl oz low-sodium beef stock
- 5 large Spanish onions
- 2 1/2 pounds ground meat (a blend of pork and lean beef, or just beef)
- Handful fresh thyme, stems removed and chopped
- 8 oz mild cheese like Monterey jack (about 2 cups shredded)
- Salt and pepper, to taste (about 1/2 tsp each)
- 14 fl oz whipping cream
- Bring the stock to a boil in a large saucepan. Peel 8 onions and cook them in the stock until they soften, for approximately 15-20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 390°F/200°C.
- Brown the ground meat in a skillet, then drain it.
- Dice the remaining onion and mix with the thyme, cooked ground meat, and shredded cheese. Season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine.
- Drain the cooked onions and reserve the stock. Cut the onions in half along the equator. Place in a baking dish, scoop out the centers a bit if necessary, and fill with the meat mixture. Mix the stock with the cream and pour over the onions.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes, until they take on a nice golden-yellow color and get crispy on top. Serve immediately.
You may need to alter the recipe based on the the size, shape, and variety of onions you use. We found these VERY large onions at our local HEB grocery store. They were a little larger than a softball. I ended up only using four of them for my version (8 halves).
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 60 mins
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stovetop, Baking
- Cuisine: Comfort Food
Keywords: stuffed onions, cream, ground beef, ground pork
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Boil the onion and stock
Pull out a large stock pot and bring the stock (we used a combination of veggie and beef) to a boil and add your onions. Let them simmer at a low boil for 15 – 20 minutes. Go ahead and preheat your oven.
Step 2 – Brown your meat
We prefer to use a carbon steel skillet for chores like this. Carbon steel, cast iron, and even stainless steel cooks protein crispier and injects more “brown” color than nonstick (which often makes meat more grey than brown) thanks to the Maillard Reaction.
We used a combination of beef and pork so we let it cook all the way through to allow for a good chunk of the fat in the pork to render out prior to packing it inside of the onions. Also note that we are making a double batch, so if this looks like a lot of meat – well, it is.
Step 3 – Mix the stuffing
Mix together the browned/cooked meat, spices, diced onion and cheese for your stuffing. To make it go a bit quicker you can use pre-shredded cheese or shred your own with a decent box grater.
Also note that the original recipe called for an extra onion to be used as a diced ingredient. We found that for these particular onions, an extra was not needed and we used the insides of the hollowed out onions for this purpose – more detail to follow.
Step 4 – Hollow out the onions
Remove the onions from the stock with a set of large tongs (such as ones designed for the grill) and place on a cutting board. We’re using a Sani-tuff rubber board for this (pictured) which we highly recommend if you happen to be shopping for a new one.
Cut the onions in two parts by slicing down the equator. The original recipe calls for “scooping” out the middle and again, the technique that you want to use for this will be determined by the variety of onion that you have on hand. We found that ours had easily separable layers.
We simply popped out the middle part and left the outer two or three layers intact. We cut the bulk of middle part away which left the bottom piece which we reinserted into the shell. You’ll want the insides to be still somewhat firm for this technique to work.
The extra from the middle was then used to add to the stuffing mixture as noted in Step 3.
Step 5 – Stuff the shells and pour over the stock/cream mixture
Place the hollowed out onion shells into a roasting pan or casserole dish and try to keep from cramming them together too much (which we had some difficulty with even in our large roaster) as it will allow the tops to become more crispier as they bake.
Add the stuffing mixture so that it “heaps” over the rim of the onion shells.
Pour over the stock and heavy cream mixture.
Step 6 – Bake, plate, and serve
Bake for 30 or 40 minutes or until the tops start getting crispy and taking on a golden brown color. Plate a serve while still hot. Drizzle some of the cream mixture on each onion and on the plate.
Note that a really wide spatula helps to remove the stuffed onions so that they remain intact.
Big fan of this recipe? Shy away from the Spanish and go for this more German baked onion tart recipe you’ll be sure to love!
And as always: share your stories and experiences in the comments section below. We love to hear from you!
We have plenty more stuffed veggies for your to make as a hearty dinner. Try these:
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Photos by Mike Quinn, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.
About Nina-Kristin Isensee
Nina lives in Iserlohn, Germany and holds an MA in Art History (Medieval and Renaissance Studies). She is currently working as a freelance writer in various fields. She enjoys travel, photography, cooking, and baking. Nina tries to cook from scratch every day when she has the time and enjoys trying out new spices and ingredients, as well as surprising her family with new cake creations.