California Central Coast Recipes
Sweet and Sour Onions
Sweet and sour onions is a very traditional Italian way to prepare onions.They are great as a side dish or part of an antipasto. This recipe is from Lazio. All regions of Italy have their own variations. In the South they will sometime add a little raisins and pine nuts to the dish.
The secret is to slowly roast the onions with a good quality balsamic vinegar until they take on a nice bronze coloring. The traditional Lazio recipe calls for some butter in the recipe, a little stock for the first braise and to serve the onions hot or warm. If you are going to serve the onions chilled (our favorite way), omit the butter.
The traditional way to prepare this recipe is to slowly cook the onions in a covered saute pan over very low heat on the stove. Preparing the onions in a pan creates a little better color, but you have to watch them a little more closely to be sure that they do not stick to the pan or dry out as they cook. This recipe calls for roasting the onions in the oven. Oven roasting is faster and gives almost the same results with a lot less hassle.
We have also seen variations of this recipe calling for all sorts of unusual added spices like juniper berries. We like to keep the recipe simple and just add a little sprig of rosemary --there is something special about roasted onions and rosemary, they complement each other so perfectly.
Preparation time: 20 minutesCooking time: 2 hours
2 pounds Cipolline or Small Pickling onions
1/4 cup Chicken Stock or Water
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Butter , optional
1 to 2 Tablespoons Sugar
1/4 cup Good Quality Balsamic Vinegar , good quality (5 years old or better)
1 small-sprig Fresh Rosemary
1 Preheat Oven to 325F
2 Par boil the onions for 1 minute, then while they are still warm peel off the outer skin.
3 Place the peeled onions in a non reactive baking dish and just enough chicken stock to cover the bottom of the dish by 1/4 inch deep. Place the onions in the oven and cook for 15 minutes until the onions are just slightly tender. The stock should be mostly gone.
4 Add the butter -if using, olive oil, 1 tablespoon sugar, vinegar and toss well with the onions to cover them. Add the rosemary sprig and salt and pepper to taste.
5 Continue to roast in the oven for one hour or until the onions are soft and easily pieced with a fork, occasionally stirring the onions to keep them coated. There should always be a little liquid in the dish with the onions. About midway, check the sweetness of the onions. Add a little extra sugar to taste if needed. If the onions seem a little dry, add a little water to the dish.
6 Serve warm or cold.
As part of an antipasto, if not too sweet, the onions will go with practically any wine, red or white. A young low tannin Sangiovese or Syrah would be a good red choice. If serving a white wine, serve with a Rhone style white like a Roussanne or Viognier.
If the onions are sweet, serve an off dry Riesling.