Cipolline onions (those small wide flat onions) are another sign that Spring is on the way. This recipe uses inexpensive commercial Balsamic vinegar to create syrupy sauce. If you can’t find Cipolline onions or don’t want to pay the price, use small boiling onions. Serve as a side dish to meat or as an antipasto.
Recipe for 4 servings as a side dish, 8 servings as an antipasto.
Ingredients and equipment:
- 2 pounds small cipolline or boiling onions (about 1-½ each)
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 cup commercial-grade balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 cup water (if needed)
Bring a large enameled cast iron pot of unsalted water to a boil. Meanwhile. cut a “cross” in the root end of each onion. Meanwhile, Add the onions and boil for 1 minute. Pour into a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
Once cool, use a knife and trim off the very top of the onion. Remove the skin from the onion, which slips away fairly easily. Wash your hands frequently as this will help with peeling the onions. (You can leave any tiny roots on the onions intact).
Add the olive oil to the large pot that was used to boil the onions. Bring the oil to almost smoking hot and add the butter. Stir the butter in the pot until it melts completely and the foam from the butter subsides. Add the drained onions and cook for about 10 minutes until golden brown all over. You will need to stir the onions frequently so they color on all sides. While browning, any skins that you failed to take off the onions will come loose. Use a pair of tongs to pick them out of the pan and discard.
Add the sugar, vinegar and rosemary to the pot. Cook the onions over a medium-low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes until nicely colored. If the mixture becomes dry, add ¼-cup of water at a time to add liquid.
Once the onions are cooked, removed them to a serving dish with a slotted spoon. If necessary, boil the vinegar mixture down to create a syrup. Be careful not to burn. Sparingly spoon the syrup over the onions. A little goes a long way.
Serve hot as a side dish to a meat or allow to cool to room temperature and serve as an antipasto.