Onions, On Their Own

Following up on the success of Martha's soup, I turned to her again for an innovative side with my first attempt at roast chicken. I don't often think of onions as a vegetable in and of themselves; I tend rather to use them as a background aromatic note to enhance something else. Here, they have a starring role and I must say it's a rather nice change.

The onions have some tannic aftertaste from the wine, yet I don't think it's too overpowering. I had to resort to jarred pearl onions, which may have some residual flavor left from that process. Although they worked wonderfully, I can't help but feel that this will be even better in a month or two when packages of small onions come out in the market.

adapted from Martha Stewart Living Annual Recipes 2005

2 lbs cipollini or pearl onions OR 2 jars (15 oz each) whole pearl onions
2 scant Tbsp olive oil
1 bay leaf
~ tsp dried thyme
1/3 c red-wine vinegar
~ 1/3 c red wine (I used Merlot)
1 heaping Tbsp sugar
1 scant tsp salt

If using fresh onions: bring a large pot of water to boil. Trim the root ends of the onions and add to the water; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer onions until tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Drain, let cool, and peel onions.
If using jarred onions: make sure you have not bought cocktail onions by mistake. Rinse and soak the onions in 2-3 changes of cold water; drain well.
Heat the oil with bay leaf in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the thyme. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until deep golden brown in spots, about 5 minutes (resist the temptation to increase the heat; mine didn't color until just the last few moments).
Stir together vineger, wine, sugar and salt; add to pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is syrupy and the onions have glazed, 20 to 25 minutes. Season with pepper and additional thyme.


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