Time: 2 hours. This labor-intensive dish is well worth the effort. To save time, use large pearl onions—or fewer of them—along with the cipollini; the dish won't be as colorful, but it will be just as tasty.
2 1/2 pounds cipollini onions
2 1/2 pounds red pearl onions
2 1/2 heads garlic (optional), separated into cloves
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus several sprigs
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup good-quality balsamic vinegar
1 cup reduced-sodium vegetable broth
1 bunch green onions, cut into 2-in. lengths
3 tablespoons butter
How to Make It
Add half of cipollini to a pot of boiling water; simmer 1 minute, then transfer to a colander with a slotted spoon and immediately rinse with cold water. Repeat with remaining cipollini, then pearl onions (in 2 batches), then garlic.
With a small, sharp serrated knife, trim root ends and peel onions and garlic on a cutting board, slitting each lengthwise and holding your thumb against the pointy tip to keep its core from squirting out; then trim any fibrous tips. Put onions and garlic in a bowl and drizzle with 1 tbsp. oil, the thyme leaves, pepper, and salt. Mix to coat.
In a large frying pan, heat remaining 2 tbsp. oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic, and sauté, stirring often, until most are partly browned. Add vinegar and broth; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until onions are tender and some are falling apart, 10 to 20 minutes. Stir in green onions and butter.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer onions to a serving bowl; cover. Boil sauce over high heat until syrupy and reduced to about 3/4 cup, about 4 minutes. Stir gently into onion mixture; top with thyme sprigs.
Make ahead: Chill airtight up to 2 days (add green onions and thyme sprigs only at end).
This was great. I agree with previous reviewers that because it is labor intensive, I wouldn't make it for a large group. We particularly liked the garlic cloves. We used chicken stock, which I was worried about, but it wasn't overpowering and we did not add the butter. We only used pearl onions and garlic, as we found ourselves without all the ingredients. We also used dried thyme (about 1/2 tsp). We will definitely make it again.
Delicious and attractive, but far too time consuming (with two cooks!) to repeat with pearl onions. I would consider making these with slices of large red, white and yellow onions plus the garlic. We did not add the butter at the end, and I can't imagine how it would improve the dish.
We cut the recipe in half as we were not cooking for a large group. It was worth the work to blanch and peel the onions.
Very good flavors. We used a good quality, although not top shelf, balsamic and only water, not veggie broth, in the sauce / glaze. Given the flavor of the onions themselves, the thyme and garlic we didn't think we'd miss vegetable broth. In fact the flavors were probably cleaner thnks to leaving it out.
The texture of the onions was nicely just softer than al dente when they were done cooking. Perfect we thought.
Also we simmered the sauce down to glaze stage with the onions right in the pan rather than taking the onons out and reducing the sauce solo. For a larger batch that may not be possible, but with the halved recipe batch it worked great.
Not sure these need the butter added at the end either. Or if so, not as much as it calls for. We tasted first and left the butter out altogether to suit our palates.
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