Like cranberries, this colorful medley of small onions adds a sweet-tart note to a Thanksgiving dinner. Deborah Madison created this recipe for us based on one in her book Vegetable Literacy (Ten Speed Press, 2013), and she vastly prefers small, regular shallots (about the size of a walnut in its shell) to the supersize ones. The small type are firmer and blend better with the other onions.
2 pounds mixed onions (extra-small red onions, pearl or boiling onions, and small cipollini)
8 small shallots (about the size of a walnut in its shell) or 4 large, separated into lobes
1/4 cup butter or olive oil, divided
2 or 3 bushy thyme sprigs, plus a few smaller sprigs for topping
2 Mediterranean bay leaves
8 fresh sage leaves, plus 3 or 4 leaves for topping
Sea salt and pepper
2/3 cup port
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, such as Katz
2 tablespoons honey or brown sugar
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
About 2 cups chicken stock or water
How to Make It
Peel onions and shallots, removing first layer if it seems tough, and if your shallot lobes are wider than 2 in., halve them lengthwise.
In a large, wide pot, melt 2 tbsp. butter with the thyme, bay, and sage over medium-high heat. Add onions and shallots and stir to coat. Season with a few pinches of salt and pepper.
Add port, vinegar, honey, raisins, and cherries, then pour in 2 cups stock. When everything has begun to simmer, lower heat, cover, and cook 10 minutes.
Stir onions and cook, uncovered, until liquid has thickened to a syrupy glaze and onions and shallots are tender, about 20 minutes. Pierce a few of the larger pieces with the tip of a knife to make sure they are tender. If they don't seem soft enough, add a little more broth, cover pan, and cook until tender.
Lift onions into a bowl with a slotted spoon. Add remaining 2 tbsp. butter to pot, increase heat to high, and reduce liquid until syrupy, 5 to 8 minutes.
Return onions to pot and turn to coat them in the glaze. Serve warm or at room temperature, topped with thyme sprigs and sage leaves.