Peel and trim the onions. Cut them crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Insert a toothpick or poultry lacer horizontally halfway into each slice to hold the onion rings together.
Prepare a medium-low charcoal fire or heat a gas grill on medium low for 10 minutes. Brush the grill grate clean and wipe it with a paper towel dipped in oil. Brush both sides of the onion slices with olive oil and grill, covered, turning every 10 minutes, until very soft and well browned on the outside, 35 to 40 minutes total. (A little blackening is OK, but try not to char the onions.) Stack the onions on a large sheet of foil and wrap loosely. Set aside while you make the glaze.
Pour the balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and add the thyme leaves, pink peppercorns (if using), and salt. Boil, uncovered, over medium-high heat until the vinegar has reduced to about 1/4 cup and has a syrupy texture, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool briefly and season to taste with salt, if necessary.
Transfer the onions to a dish. Remove the toothpicks and any extremely charred layers, if necessary. If the balsamic glaze has thickened, reheat it gently until pourable. Pour the glaze over the onions and brush to distribute it evenly. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Make Ahead Tips
You can grill the onions and make the glaze several hours ahead, but wait to glaze the onions until just before serving. If the onions sit in the glaze for more than 10 minutes, their juices will thin the glaze.
These onions are fabulous with grilled chops or steaks or tucked among sliced tomatoes for a summer salad platter. Or chop them roughly and spoon onto grilled bread rubbed with a cut ripe tomato for a twist on bruschetta.
nutrition information (per serving):
per 1/4 cup, Calories
4.5, Fat Calories
40, Saturated Fat
2, Monounsaturated Fat
20, Polyunsaturated Fat
Photo: Scott Phillips