Caramelized Shallots

I was a bit of a rebel at cooking school, which was kind of surprising considering I was pretty much a nerd in high school. I was always asking a lot of questions, especially ones that began with “Why do we have to….?” One of the hallmarks of great French cooking, I learned very quickly, was that shortcuts were pretty much a no-no. We learned, for example, how to prepare mayonnaise and whip egg whites stiff by hand instead of using mixers or hand blenders just so we would know how if we needed to in the future.

 

Easy Caramelized Shallots – the latest, greatest kitchen cheat | The Road Home

 

For chefs in a commercial kitchen this may come in handy on occasion, but I think every minute home cooks spend in the kitchen should be enjoyable. This means you should take shortcuts and even cheat a little sometimes. Otherwise, I know for a fact you will avoid certain ingredients, like shallots, which are tedious to peel since you need so many more them than onions, and slicing or dicing may them burn your eyes. You should never avoid such a wonderful ingredient such as shallots since they add so much flavor, being a little less bitter than onions and really sweet when caramelized.

 

Easy Caramelized Shallots – the latest, greatest kitchen cheat | The Road Home

 

So I’ve come up with a an easy way to caramelize massive amounts of shallots with very little labor after being inspired by a  12-Hour Rabbit Bolognese recipe in Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Great Britain (a book by the way everyone should own). He just puts all the ingredients whole into this rabbit stew and the onions just fall apart and assimilate during braising. So smart. I thought that perhaps I could achieve the same results with shallots if I just peel large shallots, quarter them and slowly cook them in a bit of oil. It works!

 

Easy Caramelized Shallots – the latest, greatest kitchen cheat | The Road Home

 

So what, you say?  Shallots cooked this way are a great replacement for onions in stews, or in pureed soups, mixed in with vegetables or mashed potatoes (see Stoemp). You could also add these to a pot pie, fill puff pastry cups with shallots and add a bit of goat cheese for a easy elegant appetizer, or again really use them anywhere you use cooked onions. Today, for example, I used them for a meatloaf. First I added a bit of cognac to the shallots, and let the alcohol burn off. Then I pureed them before adding them to the ground beef and other ingredients (you can also just chop them – fine or coarse – or leave them just the way they are).  There’s really no end on how you can use them.

 

Easy Caramelized Shallots – the latest, greatest kitchen cheat | The Road Home

 

Do you have any go-to ingredient or spice that adds pizzazz to everyday meals? Let us know in the comments, below!

 

 

 

 

Caramelized Shallots 1-2-3

From: Heide Lang

Ingredients:

  • 8 large shallots, or 12 smaller ones peeled.
  • 4-5 tablespoons canola or sunflower oil (or another oil with a high smoke point)

Directions:

  1. Cut off the root of the shallots and quarter them
  2. Heat a medium size sauté pan and add 4 tablespoons of oil.
  3. Add the shallots and coat them with the hot oil. Break up the shallots with a firm spatula as they cook until all they have all fallen apart.
  4. Cook over a low-medium heat until the shallots start to brown, about 25 minutes. Add the last tablespoon or more of canola oil if the shallots stick to the pan
  5. Remove the shallots from pan and add to your favorite vegetable, stew, soup, or any place else you would use cooked onions. (You may chop or puree them as well.)

Fig-ure it Out

Like any busy household, we sometimes always have a hard time planning out our meals just so and we end up with a random mishmash of ingredients that were meant for one thing and are now sitting forlornly in our fridge. This week the stars of the show were the figs that we bought for a Fig Cooking School photo shoot and then promptly forgot about, the lone Boursin cheese left over from a three pack meant for God knows what purpose, and the ground beef that had not made it to the TV studio for a Fox News shoot. Using up the ingredients in the fridgermarket can sometimes feel like an episode of Chopped. Which is really frustrating on a weeknight, but hey – it tests our culinary skills and makes us better cooks in the process, right? And besides, we don’t actually have a choice.

 

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For today’s episode of Fridge Chopped, I present you with Fig-Boursin Burgers. The sweetness of the honey-butter figs marries perfectly with the herbs and onions in the cheese and the meltiness of everything blossoms explosively on a crispy bun. Truth be told this could have been improved with some arugula, but we didn’t have any and running to the store would have ruined the magic. Best of all the whole thing was thrown together in the time span of Francesca’s bath!

 

We’re hoping to bring back this feature on a regular basis because lets face it, we’ve all been there. But for now let me know – what’s the most brilliant thing you’ve ever magically thrown together? Comment below and/or better yet, send us a post about it!

Fig-Boursin Burgers

From: Gabrielle Siegel

Ingredients:

  • 3 figs
  • 1-2 tbsp honey
  • 1-2 tbsp good salted butter, like Kerrygold
  • 1 1/3 lbs ground beef, shaped into 1/3 lb patties (or 4 pre-formed hamburger patties)
  • 1/3 – 1/2 container Boursin cheese (any flavor should work but we used Garlic and Fine Herb)
  • 2-3 tbsp canola oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 buns of your preference (but Brioche would be awesome)

Directions:

  1. Melt butter and honey together in a good medium-small non-stick pan (my favorite is ceramic) over medium-high heat.
  2. Cut figs from top to bottom into 4 slices, and place in pan. Be sure to place end slices pink-side down.
  3. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes, flipping every so often to make sure they cook evenly on all sides. If pan gets dry, add a little more butter. 
  4. Remove from heat and set aside.

    Burgers & Assembly

    1. Heat a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat, and add canola oil, spreading it around so it lightly coats the pan.
    2. Add burgers, season them liberally with salt and pepper, and cook, flipping often, until cooked to your liking.
    3. Toast buns and place each burger on a bun. 
    4. Spread each burger with 2-3 tbsp of Boursin, and top with 3 fig slices and some arugula if you want.
    5. Admire your handiwork and eat.

    The Big Cheese

     

    Maybe the universe is trying to send me a message or maybe I’m just insane, but I’m pretty positive that grilled cheese is stalking me. Today at work, I did a photo shoot at a store across the way from a grilled cheese restaurant. Then, a misspelled e-mail address led me to flavor-trends.com, who told me that grilled cheese was one of the top 10 trends of 2011. Then their super cool, atypical recipes reminded me that our friend Cheryl Barbara, resident coolest person in my life, recently won an episode of Chopped with a dessert grilled cheese. Then that reminded me that I realized that I grilled cheese was going to be a trend last year and even drafted a post… that I forgot to publish.

     

    Such a good sandwich... and so easy to make, so please do.

     

    It’s all for the best that I forgot to publish that post because it wasn’t very good, but I was kind of bummed, because there was a really yummy, atypical grilled cheese I had developed for it. So when I remembered that I had grilled cheese for lunch today, I decided that I may as well just share it with you now. So here you go!