The Novice Foodie Sheds Tears of Joy for the Humble Shallot
|David Monniaux, Wikimedia Commons|
|User "Charles P.," Wikimedia Commons|
While most days I've got garlic on my breath (just ask my husband), and I do cook with onions, the shallot has proven to be an aromatic workhorse in my kitchen. I use them when cooking for my onion-hating husband because they lack the sharp bite of a white onion but still provide pungency (albeit subtler), and I employ them whenever I want more depth of flavor, as they are sweeter, yet milder, than onions. They're also smaller than onions -- perfect for recipes that call for only a tablespoon or two.
This week I craved a simple comfort meal: grilled cheese and tomato soup. I used Mark Bittman's basic tomato soup recipe, which he encourages cooks to modify to their own tastes. So for the recipe's mirepoix, I used shallots in place of onions. Not only did the shallots provide an ethereal tang, but their sweetness tempered the acidity of the tomatoes, balancing the entire bowl. It was a dish that I'll make for the rest of my life, and it would have been just another bowl of soup had it not been for shallots.
I stuff the cavity of roasted chicken with shallots, and I've also caramelized them down into a sort of marmalade topping for puff pastry squares or bruschetta. You can even fry them like onion rings and use them as a savory dish topping, like green bean casserole. If you've never done so, pick some up. Their versatility means you're bound to use them one place or another, and I've never regretted adding them to a dish.
Kelli Best-Oliver is on a quest to become a full-fledged foodie. She chronicles her adventures every Tuesday. She writes about any damn thing she pleases at South City Confidential.