Layered Onion Casserole

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Assistant Cook
Aug 23, 2002
Layered Onion Casserole

My favorite is this exquisite fried onion and ragu casserole laced with a velvety cream sauce. The dish should be prepared in stages to make the final assembly easy. I make the cream sauce and the ragu several days ahead and then refrigerate them. The onions are cooked just before the final assembly. Use my Umbrian Ragu Sauce in this recipe.

Make the ragu sauce and set it aside if assembling the dish that day or refrigerate the ragu for up to 5 days for later assembly.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
4 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

2 pounds Spanish onions, peeled and cut into ¼-inch thick rings
5 tablespoons flour
1 to 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, diced
6 tablespoons of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Melt the butter over medium heat in a 2-quart saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook the mixture until it is smooth but not browned. Slowly pour in the milk and continue to cook stirring frequently until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove the sauce from the heat, stir in the salt, and nutmeg. Cover the pot and set aside or refrigerate the sauce if you are planning to make the casserole a few days later.

Put the onion rings in a large paper bag with the flour. Close the bag and shake it to lightly coat the rings.

Heat 1 cup of the vegetable oil in a heavy duty pot or sauté pan, and when the oil begins to shimmer, add the onions in batches, and brown them on both sides. As they brown remove them to paper-lined baking sheets. Add more oil as needed to cook all the onions.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Spread 1/2 cup of the cream sauce in the bottom of a 13x8 1/2x2-inch casserole or similar dish.

Spread 2 cups of the ragu over the cream sauce. Spread 1/3 of the onion mixture over the ragu, 1/3 of the mozzarella over the onions, 1/2 cup of the cream sauce over the mozzarella cheese, and 2 tablespoons of the Parmigiano cheese over the mozzarella cheese. Continue making two more layers in the same manner. Pour the remaining cream sauce over the casserole.

Bake uncovered for 30 to 35 minutes or until it is bubbly and hot.

Serve immediately.

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