This is a super simple side dish that has four ingredients (disclaimer: I used six ingredients here, but you dont have to), tastes like a million bucks, and has serious potential when paired with anything that likes either onions or cheese or both. Big convenience factor, too – you can make it a long way ahead if you need to, and just toss it into the pit when you are ready.
GRILLHEAD ALERT: This works fine on the grill too, and makes a killer burger topping – just remember not to put it over direct heat.
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What you need:
2 Vidalia onions
400-500 grams (that’s about a pound for you folks south of the Great White North) of good jack cheese
1 250g box of Ritz crackers or a quality off-brand version (that is the small supermarket box)
1 and a half sticks of unsalted butter (if you have salted butter, okay, just watch for the special instruction partway through)
a 10-inch cast iron skillet. A baking dish will work too, just remember that this is going into fire and stuff
INGREDIENT AND SKILLET NOTES: If you have the bigger box of Ritz (the 450g size) just eyeball out half the crackers. And I worked this for a 10-inch cast iron pan because that is the most common size, if you only have an 8-inch you can use that too but cut the butter to one stick and just sort of pack everything in as best you can.
Also, in the pictures you will also see cream cheese and some parmesan. Ignore these. I was experimenting and neither of these added anything to the dish. Stick with the magic four ingredients above.
Start with the crackers. Dump your box of Ritz (or a clone thereof) crackers into a heavy plastic bag and smush them up. Use your hand, a rolling pin, a glass, get your dog to walk on it, whatever. You don’t need fine crumbs, or a regular consistency, just something that will soak up butter and be easy to spread in the pan.
Melt your butter. Then let it cool for a bit, and while it cools you can chop your onions, and grate your cheese. Don’t worry about a perfect dice on the onion, just a nice chop is fine.
Did I mention that there are hardly any ingredients here? It’s true! We are almost done! Now – take the melted butter, pour it into the bag with the cracker crumbs, and mush it around a bit so it is well mixed. Put half of the cracker-butter mix into the bottom of the pan.
Then put in half of the onions.
Then half of the cheese.
Then repeat – the second half of the crackers, the second half of the onion, and the rest of the cheese. Top with a good sprinkle of salt and some pepper (ALERT FOR THE SALTED BUTTER PEOPLE: DONT PUT THE SALT IN HERE, YOUR BUTTER ALREADY HAS MORE THAN ENOUGH!)
You can do it up to this point a few hours or even a full day in advance. If you do prep this ahead of time, take it out of the fridge a couple of hours beforehand and be sure it is at room temperature before you cook. It’s not going to go bad on the counter or anything.
Now the easy part: Get your pit – or, in a pinch, your oven – around 400 degrees or so (anywhere from 375 to 425 is fine) and let it sit in there for about 20 minutes. When the onions are tender, it’s done.
GRILLHEAD ALERT: You can do this on your grill too, same temps, just make sure you put it on one side of the grill and put the heat on the other. You don’t want to fry this, you want to roast it. No heat directly under the pan!
Regardless of which way you do it, after 20 minutes you will have a bubbly buttery cheesy onion bake with a crusty bottom and a flavour build that will knock you out. No one will believe it has just four ingredients.
This is a spectacular side for a steak, or any red meat, and makes a fun change from the usual mushrooms and potatoes that people tend fall back on. And for a really decadent treat, put a big scoop of this on top your hamburger – bun, patty, a scoop of this, whatever toppings you fancy, and the other half of the bun. You’ll go mental when you try it. MENTAL.
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