In 1975 the English writer and journalist Shirley Conran used a phrase which has now entered the language, life is too short to stuff a mushroom; I don’t necessarily think she meant it literally, but she may have been inspired by the increasingly complicated, unnecessary and pretentious way of doing many things, including cooking fairly simple food. In actual fact, stuffing a mushroom is the simplest thing – paté, cream cheese, breadcrumbs and butter, Stilton, hollandaise sauce, left over anything such as bolognese sauce, white sauce, kedgeree, risotto, paella, stew… anything in fact… I do get the point though.
However, stuffing an onion, that sounds a bit more of a challenge, and a bit more time-consuming, and how many people these days would eat a stuffed onion… I’m not sure any of my family would!
The National Mark Calendar of Cooking, has plenty of suggestions, but not all of them are as simple and easy as what I thought of for my mushrooms; the large onions should be par-boiled whole, then their insides taken out to leave a shell – which sounds quite tricky, actually; anyway here are heir suggestions:
- the insides of the par-boiled onions chopped up with forcemeat ( breadcrumbs, parsley, mixed herbs, lemon zest, suet, egg, salt and pepper, optional chopped ham) or minced meat (I presume cold cooked meat minced)
- savoury rice (butter, rice, onion, stock, plus optional tomato purée, curry powder or saffron, cooked for half an hour)
- purée of spinach and cream
- potato purée and chopped cooked onion insides
- semolina cooked in stock and mixed with grated cheese
- haricot beans
- white fish, flaked and in sauce and chopped onion insides
.. and later in the book, among November’s recipes is another, with a sort of precognition of Ms Conran’s advice turned round,
9. mushrooms, chopped boiled onion shell insides, celery, parsley and tarragon, and beef – it doesn’t say whether raw or cooked, but i guess cooked and minced