First grown in Vidalia, Georgia in the 1930s by farmers looking for a more successful crop than the usual cotton and tobacco, the Vidalia onion is a sweet variety, with thick, juicy layers and a noticeable lack of the heat most onions possess. The sweetness comes from the sandy, low-sulfur soil that predominates in the southeastern part of Georgia, and is perfect for caramelizing. I’ve added a teaspoon of sugar to boost the speed of the caramelization, but it’s not strictly necessary.
Caramelized Vidalia Onion Mashed Potatoes
1 pound Vidalia onions, peeled & sliced 1/4 inch
2 pounds Russet potatoes, peeled & cut into 2-inch chunks
4 tablespoons butter
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons cream, at room temperature
Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over low heat, stir in onions, salt, & sugar, and cook very slowly, stirring often, until onions darken, about 1 hour. Be careful not to brown them too quickly; onions should just barely sizzle. Remove from skillet and chop.
Cook potatoes in plenty of boiling water in large pot until done, about 20 minutes. (Check for doneness by piercing a piece of potato with a paring knife. If you can pick the potato piece up out of the water with the knife, they’re not done.) Drain and return to pot; heat over medium heat until potatoes are dry. Mash potatoes with chopped onions & cream. Taste for salt and serve.