Layers of Flavor

Peel away a layer and you get…more layers! Which makes onions perfect for grilling. The heat turns them sweet and brings out delicious flavor, layer after layer. Add them to salads, burgers and sandwiches for amazing mouth-feel and sweetness.
Hickory Grilled Onions

  • 3 red onions, sliced crosswise into ½ inch rounds
  • 1 ½ cups bottled hickory-flavored barbecue sauce

Preheat barbecue to medium heat. Use a skewer or long toothpick to hold the rings together. Brush onion slices generously with barbecue sauce. Lightly oil the grill grate with an oil-dampened paper towel. Grill until onions are tender, brown and glazed, basting with barbecue sauce and turning occasionally, about 15 minutes.

Onions can also be grilled whole as a side dish to accompany your meal. Hollowed out, they make a tasty container for salsa, relish or vegetables. Adding wood chips to the grilling process adds dimension to the taste.

Filled Grilled Onions

  • 2 cups wood chips
  • 8 medium Vidalia or red onions
  • 2 red peppers, cored and diced
  • 1 kielbasa, diced
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sweet red barbecue sauce
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Soak wood chips in a container of water for 15 to 30 minutes. Drain and set chips aside. Preheat grill to high then turn off one burner to allow for indirect grilling.

Cut off onion tops and peel. Hollow out onions leaving base intact. Finely chop pieces removed from onions.

In mixing bowl, combine chopped onions, diced peppers and kielbasa, brown sugar and barbecue sauce. Spoon onion/pepper mixture into the center of each whole onion. Top each onion with 1/2 tablespoon oil.

Arrange onions on grill grate away from fire. If using a charcoal grill, toss wood chips on coals. If using a gas grill, place wood chips in a foil pan or smoker box under the grate. Grill the onions 50 to 60 minutes or until they are golden brown and tender.

Grilled Blooming Onion

  • 4 large onions (sweet, such as Vidalia)
  • Dash salt
  • Dash pepper
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

Slice the stem from the onions and peel them, leaving the root intact. Slice a bit of the root off, just enough to provide a flat end so they won’t wobble.

Working from the top and using a sharp knife, a small melon baller, or apple corer, cut the cores from the onions. You should have a cavity about 1 inch across and almost through to the bottom of the onion without piercing it. Use the cored-out onion pieces for another purpose.

Salt and pepper the onion cavities and then fill each onion with 1 tablespoon of oil. Sprinkle the onions lightly with a bit more salt and pepper. Wrap the onions in foil, gathering at the top and twisting to seal.

Cook in a closed grill for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours over medium indirect coals. Untwist top of foil and spread open about 10 minutes before serving.

Leave them on the grill for more smoked flavor, if you like.

Slow Sweet Slices

  • 2 Spanish onions, sliced in rings, about 1/4” thick
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons canola or light olive oil

The onions take time to soften and cook so begin your barbecue prep with this.

Toss onions slices with salt, pepper, honey and oil. Place in a medium-sized foil pan. Preheat grill to high and turn off one burner. Place the pan where the burner is off. Allow to cook 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and sweet. Top your burgers or grilled chicken with a few rings.

Readers may submit questions to the Culinary Connoisseur, c/o Hamodia, 207 Foster Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11230 or via e-mail to This weekly column has been brought to you by The Peppermill, the world’s first kosher kitchenware store, located at 5015 16th Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. (718) 871-4022. You can also read a selection of previous columns in their comprehensive cookbook, The Culinary Connoisseur, available now at your local Judaica and kitchenware stores. Jam-packed with delicious recipes, insightful food information and helpful cooking tips, this book is certain to become your constant companion in the kitchen.