In the cookbook, Saveur Cooks Authentic Italian, this recipe for Cipolline in Agrodolce falls within the chapter for Antipasti. The small, flat Italian onions in any format, are usually eaten as an appetizer, historically during the winter months. They’re so perfectly sweet and sour, we can see ourselves sitting at the kitchen bar with a small fork popping these straight up, but we had them served as a side dish to roast pork.
If you plan to make these, allow yourself a good chunk of time. It not only takes 1½ hours for the onions to braise in the agrodolce, but peeling tiny cipolline onions is an exercise in patience…the paper-thin skins cling like a desperate girlfriend to the onions. Even with the “tip” to soak the onions in ice water to loosen the skins, it took two of us 15 minutes and a few impatient four-letter words to peel the onions.
Final product, though, was worth every minute.
Cipolline in Agrodolce
from Saveur Cooks Authentic Italian
1 pound cipolline onions
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely minced prosciutto fat
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons sugar
1 bay leaf
½ cup white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
Place onions in a bowl of cold water for 10 minutes to loosen skins, then peel with a sharp knife, taking care to remove only the papery skis and keep the base intact.
Finely mince one onion and set aside. Heat oil in a heavy skillet, large enough to hold the onions in one layer, over medium heat. Add prosciutto fat and stir with a wooden spoon until melted, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and reserved minced onions and cook until soft and translucent, about 6-8 minutes.
Add whole onions in one layer, then add sugar, bay leaf, vinegar, salt and 1 cup water. The water should just cover the onions. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and gently simmer until onions are tender but still firm, about 1½ hours. Allow to cool to room temperature in pan juices before serving.