In the Kitchen: Shallots

January 30, 2012 at 7:14 pm Leave a comment

Some beautiful shallots from Peacemeal Farm made an appearance in the vegetable shares over the past two weeks, and, since we fielded several questions about them immediately, we thought this lesser-known allium needed some special attention.

In the interest of simplification we could just say to treat shallots like onions – they’re in the same family and will behave much the same way in the kitchen (i.e. they’re delicious sauteed with butter and they will make you cry).  That simplication, however, does shallots a disservice. 

While it’s true that you can substitute shallots for onions in just about any situation, there is a sublety of taste and texture to the shallot that deserves to be coaxed out and highlighted.  For this reason, we recommend using them in a dish in which they will be a main ingredient – not just as part of a base for a more complicated recipe.  For example, they get lost in most soups but shine in simple stirfries or caramelized and served on top of a steak or pizza.  Shallots have a bite, but it’s not as sharp as an onion’s so you can use them raw if you treat them right. 

Read on for a few of our favorite shallot “recipes” and please,  if you already love shallots and have some recipes suggestions, email us! freerangefarmtruck@live.com

Caramelized Shallots
Shallots (and onions) have a natural sweetness, it just needs to be drawn out. Caramelizing does just that by slowly cooking the sugars.  Slowly is the operative word here.  Heat 2+ tablespoons of butter or olive oil (or a mix) in a skillet over medium heat.  Add several thinly sliced shallots, at least 5 if they’re large, more if they’re small.  Spread them out evenly and cook, stirring often, for several minutes.  Turn the heat down to low and continue to cook for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  As long as your heat is low enough you can practically ignore them. It’s okay if the shallots stick a little bit, just don’t let them seriously adhere to the pan. The shallots will gradually brown.  If they start to dry out during the process you have a few options: add a small amount of water, add a bit more oil or butter, or cover the pan for a few minutes.   Taste as you go – you’ll know the shallots are done when they’re super sweet, moist and have no crunch left.  Caramelized shallots are great on steak, burgers (with blue cheese!), in salads, on pizza, with brussels sprouts and the list goes on.  If you like these as much as we do, tell us what you’ve done with them!

Shallot Vinaigrette
This is easiest if you have a mini blender, but perfectly reasonable if you don’t – you’ll just end up with a slightly chunkier dressing. 
In blender or small mason jar add 2 Tbsp each Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Vinegar (we like balsamic or apple cider), 1 Tbsp Maple Syrup or Honey, 1/2 Tbsp dijon mustard and 1 small chopped shallot.  If you have a blender, it can be roughly chopped because your next step is to blend the whole mixture.  If you don’t, mince it finely.  Be sure to shake the dressing before you use it.

Raw
You can take the bite out of shallots (and onions) by soaking them in vinegar.  It’s  a great trick if you want to toss some thin slices into your salad but are hoping for a more subdued taste. Just thinly slice the shallots and then soak for 10-15 minutes in vinegar, drain, and then toss into your salad.  You can, of course, use that discarded vinegar in a dressing.

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Entry filed under: Vegetable Profiles.

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