Los Angeles, California, –Shallots are a gift to the cooking world and they are great to use if you know how to cut them. A relative of the onion, the shallot is basically a smaller onion with a sweeter, milder flavor. Unlike onions, which grow in a single bulb, shallots form in clusters in a manner similar to garlic. When learning to cut them, it’s important to understand the basic configuration of them.
Remove the top and bottom of the shallot by using a sharp paring knife. Then use your knife to make a small shallow slice from top to bottom on one side so you can easily remove the skin of the shallot. Use your fingers to peel the skin. Sometimes you will notice the skin removes easily from the larger bulb but not the smaller one. Again, take your knife, make another small shallow cut from top to bottom and release that skin from the smaller bulb. Separate the two, sometimes three, bulbs from each other.
You can dice it, slice it or roast it!
To peel or not to peel-Always peel a shallot, the easiest way to peel it is by cutting the ends off first and then use a pairing knife to lift the skin off.
How to cut the shallot- Always cut the top and bottom off but keep as much of the actual shallot as possible. Next, it’s best to cut with the curve of the shallot bulb.
How to slice the shallot-Sliced shallot, first cut with the curve and along the grain of the shallot.
How to dice a shallot-A diced shallot is done by cutting against the grain of the shallot after it has already been sliced.
A different way to cut shallots- Another great way to cut shallots is into ovals/circles. This is easily done by starting at one of the cut ends and making a straight cut across. When the cut shallot is removed from the whole it stays in tact and is a natural oval/circle.
How to braise a shallot- once you remove the skin and separate the individual bulbs, you can braise the shallots whole. In a shallow dish, fill the pan with two-thirds ? liquid (vinegar and oil, wine and water, lemon, wine and water) and cover with a lid or aluminum foil. Braise on 325 for 45 minutes to an hour.
How to use a shallot-After you cut them or buy them what can you do with them? Pretty much anything. You can use shallots like you would garlic. They can be added to any of the same dishes for an extra layer of flavor. OR you can actually use shallots as part of the dish – for example, in a dish like “Green Beans with Crunchy Shallots.”
Where to buy them-Shallots are not uncommon and can be bought in most grocery stores and any way you cook them, they’re a tasty treat. You can purchase them with the skin on or with the skin off. Keep in mind, though, unpeeled shallots stay fresher longer.
So whether you’re slicing, dicing or braising, shallots are a tasty treat. They’re intimidating at first but, after you learn how to cut and use them, they have a softer flavor than garlic and a more interesting flavor than onions and will be well received in any dish.