How to make caramelised shallots… the easy way; and what to serve them with
Someone gave me a whole bag of shallots. And I wasn’t grateful.
Shallots are hell to peel. Their hard skin seems to get, painfully, between your nails and the flesh of your fingers. And these golden gifts weren’t even échalotes grises, or cuisse de poulet du Poitou which might have been worth the effort. ‘Chicken thigh’ shallots have a rich, sweet taste, intriguing, worth working for. But these were ordinary, common or garden, shallots.
How to peel shallots the easy way
What to do? Well, there is a way to make it easier to peel shallots, and that is to pour boiling water over them, and leave them for five minutes. If you want to cook them, instead of leaving them, you can simmer for five minutes. Once cool, with a sharp knife, you can cut through the base, almost to the opposite side, just stopping short of the outer skin. Then you can pick up the outer skin with the knife and peel it back and off. The rest of the skin will come off easily enough.
Then the thing to do is to caramelise them.
Depending on the size, about eight shallots will do for two people as an accompaniment.
You can make them extra special by adding in a controlled glug of Marsala, or some red wine (if you happen to have any left over). If you do this, taste all the time as you need to control the sweetness.
What to do with caramelised shallots
Caramelised shallots go well with steak, especially the in-your-face Steak au Poivre; or with roast chicken; or with pork chops.
You can also chop them up small and add them to a vinaigrette or a salsa; or you can cut them into ribbons and add them to salads or pasta.
Serves – 2
- 8 shallots
- 50g butter
- 1 tbsp maple syrup, or you can use soft, dark brown sugar
- 1 tbsp thick balsamic vinegar
- Pinch of Urfa pepper flakes
- Textured salt, smoked or Maldon
- Chopped rosemary (optional)
- Put the shallots in a small saucepan, cover with boiling water, and simmer for five minutes.
- Leave to cool, drain, and then peel, as described above.
- Using the same saucepan, melt the butter. Add the shallots. Keep stirring, they need to be cooked through and thoroughly coated.
- Add the Urfa pepper flakes, the syrup and vinegar, and continue to cook until sticky. You will have been cooking the shallots for at least 15 minutes by this time.
- Serve, with the salt sprinkled over them, and the chopped rosemary if you are using it.