Sweet Georgia onions belong in a savory pie

Ligaya Figueras
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

I know many a home cook who begins dinner with an onion. We figure out the rest as we chop, slice, mince or dice.

When it’s hot in Georgia, this cook reaches for Vidalia onions, Georgia’s pride and joy root vegetable. It shines in many a kitchen project (raise your hand if you have something pickling with Vidalia onions right now), but none so much as an onion pie.

Open your pantry and your fridge. Everything you need to make this savory onion pie is probably on hand already. The minimalist aspect is what I adore about this recipe and many others published in the recently released “The Folk School Cookbook,” the newest cookery tome from the John C. Campbell Folk School in the mountains of Brasstown, North Carolina, some two hours north of Atlanta.

This recipe is so simple that I have but a few pointers for the home cook.

First, the crust: With this recipe, the crust matters less than the filling. So prepare your favorite scratch pie crust or be content with a store-bought version.

Second, the filling in this pie can be one or two layers. I like the interior look of double layers: caramelized onion and bacon on the bottom; white custard on top. If you want to mix onions, bacon and all the wet ingredients, go for it.

Just don’t miss out on Vidalia onions. They will be gone before you know it.

And a note from Nanette Davidson, culinary director at the Campbell Folk School since 1998: “This pie is also delicious with the addition of 1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese added in either layer.”

No matter how you stir in the ingredients, this pie lives up to its name.

Onion Pie Supreme

1 (9-inch) homemade or store-bought pie crust

4 strips bacon

6 tablespoons butter, divided

3 medium Vidalia onions, sliced thin

1 teaspoon salt

11/2 cups sour cream

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup milk

3 tablespoons flour

Chill the pie crust in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

In a frying pan, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until crisp and let drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Crumble the bacon or chop into small pieces and set aside.

Discard bacon grease (or reserve for another use). Wipe the pan down. Add 3 tablespoons butter to the pan and melt over medium heat. Add the onion slices and salt, stirring to combine. Cook until the onions are light brown in color and very soft (caramelization can take up to 30 minutes). Remove from the heat and allow the onions to cool.

Remove the pie crust from the refrigerator. Spoon the onion mixture into the pie crust, using the back of the spoon to spread the mixture evenly. Scatter the bacon pieces over the onions.

Prepare the rest of the filling: Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a microwave or small saucepan. Pour the melted butter into a mixing bowl. Add the sour cream, eggs, milk and flour. Stir well to incorporate. Pour the filling over the onion-bacon mixture.

Bake 10 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Continue baking 30 to 40 minutes, until the center is firm and the crust is golden. Allow to cool briefly before serving so the pie will cut more easily. Serve as a starter or light main course with a salad. Serves 8.

Nutritional information per serving: 339 calories (percent of calories from fat, 71), 7 grams protein, 18 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 27 grams fat (14 grams saturated), 99 milligrams cholesterol, 600 milligrams sodium.

Recipe adapted from “The Folk School Cookbook: A Collection of Seasonal Favorites from John C. Campbell Folk School” by Nanette Davidson.