You will find many ways to please your guests with this simple dish. The juicy, glazed onions are delicious as an hors d’oeuvre to be passed around, tossed in a salad, or served as a side dish with meats and fish. Here, I use balsamic vinegar to give the glazing syrup lots of flavor and a lovely caramel color, but you could use good wine vinegar as well. In which case, use just half the vinegar called for, and 1 teaspoon of honey. These onions are wonderful served warm from the pan or at room temperature and make a great house gift, packed in a nice jar with a label tied around the neck. They will keep in the refrigerator for a week or two and freeze well, too.
- 2 pounds cipolline onions, peeled but left whole
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
You will need a heavy-bottomed high-sided skillet or sauté pan, 12-inch diameter. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, drop in all the peeled onions, and return the water to a simmer. Cook about 20 minutes, or until the onions are tender all the way through—pierce them with the point of a paring knife to test. Drain the cipolline and pat them dry.
Heat the butter in the big skillet, and set it over medium-high heat. When it is melted, scatter the onions in the pan, and toss to roll and coat them with butter. Season with the salt, and cook, tossing frequently, until the onions are brown and caramelized all over, about 5 minutes.
Pour the vinegar into the pan, and sprinkle the sugar into it (use more or less sugar to taste). Shake the skillet, rolling the onions around, as the vinegar comes to a boil and the sugar dissolves. Cook at the boil for 5 minutes or so, frequently tossing the onions, until the syrup thickens and lightly glazes the cipolline.
Serve the cipolline warm, right from the pan with syrup drizzled on top, or cooled to room temperature (the glaze will thicken and can be spooned over).