These are like little baby onions, sometimes bright purple-pink and sometimes creamy white.

Cooked slowly as a confit they make a lovely accompaniment to beef. In a medium pan, simmer 12 oz (350 g) of peeled whole shallots with 7 fl oz (200 ml) of red wine, 1 fl oz (25 ml) of red wine vinegar and seasoning. Keep the heat very low and cook, without a lid, for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, turning the shallots over halfway through. After this time, add half a teaspoon of sugar to give a lovely sticky glaze, and cook for another 5 minutes. Serves 4.

They are lovely pickled, or simmered whole in casseroles and braised dishes, and I love them chopped very finely in salads, such as Salade Niçoise.

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