Recipe: the ultimate autumnal side dish from Chantecler’s Jonathan Poon

Recipe: the ultimate autumnal side dish from Chantecler’s Jonathan Poon

Toronto Life Cookbook 2013 Recipe: Stuffed Onions

By Jonathan Poon

PREP TIME: 1 hour
COOK TIME: 1 hour 15 minutes
Serves 6


3 large Spanish onions
3 bay leaves


1 ¼ cups dry sticky rice
½ cup dry white wine
¼ cup butter
⅛ tsp salt


½ celeriac bulb, peeled and diced
1 ½ cups whole milk
¼ tsp salt


⅔ cup whole milk
1 bay leaf
2 black peppercorns
1 whole nutmeg
2 ½ tsp butter
2 ½ tsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch kale, julienned
1 garlic clove
⅛ tsp salt
¼ cup Parmesan, grated

1. Soak rice overnight. Place celeriac in a pot with milk, cover and cook over medium heat until soft. Remove celeriac with a slotted spoon and let cool for 5 minutes. Purée in a blender with just enough milk to make a smooth texture. Stir and season with salt. Strain through
a sieve back into pot.

2. Drain rice and steam for 45 minutes to an hour until al dente. Spread onto a cookie sheet to cool. In a small pot, bring wine and butter to a boil. Pour over rice and mix. Season rice and shave truffle overtop, if using. Mix gently.

3. Wrap each onion in foil with a bay leaf. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350°F for 40 to 55 minutes. Cool.

4. To prepare kale filling, heat milk with bay leaf, peppercorns and nutmeg in a saucepan over low for 10 minutes.

5. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour, cooking for 1 minute until golden. Strain and whisk hot milk into flour and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes until thickened.

6. In an oiled pan, sauté kale with garlic just until wilted and remove from heat. Mix kale with béchamel to bind it.

7. When onions are cool enough to handle, slice each in half lengthwise and peel layers, separating the large from the small. Stuff large pieces with rice filling and roll them into torpedo shapes. Stuff small onion pieces with kale filling. Place in a baking dish and top with Parmesan.

8. Preheat oven to 300°F. Bake for 15 minutes until warm. To serve, heat celeriac purée in a saucepan and dollop over onions.

Toronto Life Cookbook 2013 Recipe: Stuffed Onions
Get ahead by preparing the celeriac purée, béchamel and roasted onions a day in advance. Store in separate airtight containers in the fridge for up to 2 days. Reheat sauces just before using.

Toronto Life Cookbook 2013 Recipe: Stuffed OnionsJONATHAN POON

Last February, Jonathan Poon was experimenting with vegetarian dishes for the menu at his Parkdale restaurant. His local produce selection was limited to winter cellar keepers, but with constraints came creativity: he roasted Spanish onions, then layered them with truffled sticky rice and creamy kale. The result is a totally comforting snack that’s difficult to classify—Chinese? French? Italian?—and, to Poon, that’s the whole point of cooking. “All food is fusion,” he says, “I mean, the Italians got pasta from the Chinese.” Who knew? Poon knew.

Recipes developed by Victoria Walsh. Recipe photography by Ryan Szulc. Illustrations by Aleksandar Janicijevic. Interviews by Meaghan Binstock, Chantal Braganza, Matthew Hague, Peter Saltsman, Courtney Shea and Caroline Youdan.