Recipe: Cipolline in agrodolce (sweet and sour shallots)


Delicious and versatile, these make a delicate accompaniment to roast beef and meats when served warm, or served cold as"chutney" with cheeses. The key is slow cooking, as the longer you leave them the more caramelised and delicious they become. The raisins give a deeper sweeter taste, but can be left out if preferred.

Serves: 4-6 as a side dish
Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking: 1½ hours

1kg small round shallots
3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp cider/white wine vinegar
2-3 tbsp water
2 tbsp raisins
3 tbsp Marsala/sweet wine


● Peel the shallots, keeping most of the root intact so the layers stay together. To help with peeling, soak the shallots in lukewarm water for 5 minutes beforehand.

● Warm the olive oil in a thick-based saucepan and add the shallots together with a pinch of salt.

● Leave to cook over a high flame for a couple of minutes until they turn golden.

● Reduce the flame and add the sugar, vinegar and 2 tablespoons of warm water. Cover with a lid and simmer for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally until the shallots are mostly soft.

● Add the raisins and Marsala wine and, if dry, another tablespoon or two of water.

● Stir well, partially cover and keep on cooking for another 20-30 minutes, until the shallots soften and the sauce becomes dense and caramelised.

● Serve either warm or at room temperature - both temperatures are delicious but do taste very different.

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