Roasted red onions with garlic, vinegar and thyme
This recipe was a staple in the kitchen of my restaurant, Wildwood, in Portland, Oregon. We usually served these onions alongside an entree of roasted chicken, or duck, or a beef dish. Some nights, I'd notice the onions coming back on the plates looking like they hadn't been touched. After investigating, I discovered that this happened when the cook on that station hadn't roasted the onions long enough--they have to be soft, or the experience of eating them is unpleasant. I offer a belated apology here and now, to any diner who was delivered a plate with those undercooked onions!
The trick to making these onions sweet, soft, and yet slightly crispy on the outside with a blistered skin, is to baste them with the oil and vinegar a few times during the cooking process. This has the added advantage of causing the garlic cloves to become a bit crispy too.
Look for smaller onions for this recipe. You can usually find them at farmers markets, and markets that carry several varieties of single ingredients, such as https://www.providorefinefoods.com/ in NE Portland. Square Peg Farm has excellent red onions, which you can find at the Portland Farmers Market at PSU, open every Saturday until December 23rd this year or at Providore fine foods.
Makes 8 servings when served as a side dish
4 small red onions cut in half, or 2 large ones cut into quarters with the core intact
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sweet vinegar such as Riesling, Muscatel or balsamic
8 to 12 fresh thyme sprigs
8 cloves garlic, peeled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the onions in a large bowl with the oil, vinegar, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper, and use your hands to toss gently, evenly coating the onions with the other ingredients.
Arrange the onions in a large cast iron pan or oven proof baking dish. Spoon the marinade over the onions and place the pan in the oven. Bake 50 to 55 minutes, basting the onions with the liquid once or twice during that time.
Remove the onions from the oven to cool before serving. If preparing ahead, reheat the onions before serving by placing them in the oven briefly, to warm them up just past room temperature. I prefer them that way, rather than piping hot.