3 pounds small white onions
Olive oil (for coating)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Set the oven at 350 degrees. Have on hand a 12-inch cast-iron skillet or rimmed baking sheet.
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add the onions, cook 1 minute, then drain them into a colander. Rinse with cold water and when they are cool enough to handle, peel them without removing the pointed ends or the hairy root. Then cut off the hairs without removing the root -- this holds the onion layers together.
Transfer the onions to a bowl and add olive oil by the teaspoon until the onions are coated all over. Add salt and pepper and tip the onions into skillet or baking sheet.
Roast the onions in the hot oven for 1 hour, shaking the pan several times, or until they are golden brown and tender when pierced with a skewer. Serve at once. Adapted from Gertrude Cherenson.