Serving stuffed foods is one of the best known Sukkot culinary traditions, although there are many. Just as the Sukkah protects the guests taking shelter therein, so the wrap shelters its filling. A Sukkah is to Jewish people what cabbage is to rice, what knish is to the mashed potatoes and what kibbeh is to its meat.
Since Sukkot is the harvest holiday, stuffed food is a great opportunity to incorporate some of the bounty of fruit and vegetables into the dish. The fact that stuffed dishes are usually served as a one-pot meal makes them even more a Sukkot winner - since schlepping less dishes to the sukkah is a big plus.
This year I decided to go with a large pan of stuffed onions in pomegranate sauce. The onions are separated into layers and each layer is stuffed and wraps a filling of ground beef chuck and rice. The stuffed onions are then cooked in chicken broth and pomegranate concentrate for a couple of hours, until they’re glazed in a thick, sweet and sour syrup and, best of all, their bottoms are brown from the heat and they turn out sticky and wonderful. Onions were always my favorite among the stuffed vegetables my grandmother used to make.
Stuffed onions in pomegranate sauce
The onions are separated into layers and each layer is stuffed on its own, so from each onion yields about 5 or 6 stuffed onions. Preparation is pretty easy. Follow the instructions and the photos.
Pomegranate concentrate is available in Middle Eastern markets, some kosher markets and at Whole Foods.
It’s best to use a 13” round pan with a lid so you can arrange the stuffed onions in one layer. You can also use a smaller pan and arrange then in two layers.
1½ cups Jasmine rice
5 large onions, yellow or red or a combination of both
1 lb. ground beef chuck
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
½ teaspoon black pepper
5 dates, pitted
2½ cups chicken broth
cup pomegranate concentrate
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
½ hot pepper, seeded and sliced (optional)
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Soak rice in cold water for an hour. Set aside.
Cut the very top and the bottom of each onion and peel the rough skin. With a sharp knife, make a cut lengthwise until you reach the core of the onion. Put the onions in a large pot and cover with cold salted water. Bring to boil over high heat, reduce the heat, cover the pan and cook for 20 minutes. Drain and move the onions to a colander, wash in cold water and let cool until easy to handle, about 30 minutes.
When the onions have cooled down, separate them into layers and put the layers in a large bowl.
Strain the rice and mix with ground beef, tomato paste, 2½ teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper. Spray the pan with oil. Stuff each onion layer with a spoonful or two of the filling and roll it back over the filling. Arrange tightly in the pan, preferably in one layer.
Cut the dates into halves and spread between the stuffed onions in the pan.
Put chicken broth, pomegranate concentrate, lemon juice, olive oil, hot pepper (if using) and 1½ teaspoons kosher salt in a small pot and bring to boil. Pour gently over the stuffed onions.
Put the pan over medium-high heat and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook for 1½ hours. Remove the lid and cook for ½ hour longer, until the sauce is thick and the onions are caramelized at the bottom. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.