“Shallot Tears” and other short stories.

Holy badword! The Menu For Hope III raffle campaign has already raised more than $14,000 and is less than $3,000 away from exceeding last year’s total! There’s still time to get in on the action, and Bon Appegeek’s donated pasta maker package is still just as shiny and pasta makeriffic as ever.

Shallot in glassIn the meantime, here’s a story about how I twice betrayed the faithful onion for an exotic purple beauty beloved in France. I couldn’t help it. Shallots have romance. Nobody deep fries and dips shallots into ketchup. Southwestern Asia, for instance, stops at the deep frying. Oh, who am I kidding. Someone somewhere has deep fried shallot rings and dipped them into ketchup. If you search for anything, anything at all, someone somewhere has deep fried it and dipped it into ketchup—Snickers, raccoon pelts, chess bishops, you name it. My point is that you can’t buy fried shallots at Burger King, and, if memory serves, you can’t buy onion rings with visible onion in them there either.

So when I started buying shallots regularly years ago I was smitten. I peeled back the papery skins and exposed varying pale purple hues so pretty that even in their looks they seemed to capture the whole of their own complex flavor, melting texture, and culinary reputation. Unlike stinky onions, something so pretty could never let me down and make me cry. Then I’d mince them and they’d make me cry. So much for that theory.

Haricot vert with scandalous shallotsEventually I returned to the humble onion. The shallot is an enjoyable waltz with Europe, but I prefer to swing dance with India and do the macarena with Korea. (People still do the macarena, right?) The shallot faded away to make rare appearances only in vinaigrettes or sautés. My habit of buying cured onions 25 pounds at a time might have played a part in that decision. But they’re still awfully attractive, those shallots. When I recently picked up a rare package of haricot vert, a recipe on the package, of all places, caught my eye because it called for a scandalous quantity of shallots. I shoved my onions aside to adore shallots again.

The recipe needed tinkering, but the end result pleased me. My tears were worth it. All the same, next time I’ll put on swim goggles before I start chopping. Sometimes I never learn.

Adapted from a recipe taken off the package
Serves 4 as a side dish

· 1/2 pound (225 grams) whole haricot vert or green beans
· 1-2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
· 3/4 cup sliced shallots
· salt
· 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
· 1 teaspoon brown sugar

1) Cook the green beans by plunging them into salted boiling water until tender but still quite crisp, keeping in mind that they’ll cook a little bit more from residual heat. Haricot vert will take 2-3 minutes, regular green beans will take 4-7 minutes. Frozen beans will take much longer. Immediately drain the cooked beans.

2) In the meantime, melt the butter in a medium skillet and add the shallots. Sprinkle with a few pinches of salt and sweat the scandalous shallots over medium heat until soft and reduced to a pious mass. Raise the heat to medium high and add the brown sugar and mustard. Cook until the shallots and sugar start to caramelize.

3) Add the cooked green beans to the shallots and stir thoroughly. Cook until beans are heated through and flavors meld.

4) Adjust salt to taste. Serve warm.

5 thoughts on ““Shallot Tears” and other short stories.

  1. If you enjoyed yours, you might like this one. It’s got lots of shallots too. And you’re oh-so-right, shallots have the most wonderful depth of flavor when they’ve been roasted especially. I got this from a cooking class last year and have made it inumerable times since.

    12 ounces shallots, sliced
    1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    8 ounces haricot verts, steamed to barely done
    salt and pepper, to taste
    Combine the shallots, oil, vinegar, a bit of S & P on a large piece of heavy duty foil. Close up, roast for an hour at 375, open up, toss the haricot verts around, taste for more S&P, and you’re done. Guests want to lick the bowl

  2. Y’know, I totally love shallots and more and more am using them in place of onion. I have grudgingly used onions in cooking but have never gotten to a point of loving them unless they are deliciously caramelized. The crunch of them never fails to make me want to gag, and of course their residual effect on your social life can be disastrous.

    Shallots it is…..menu dependent though.

  3. Carolyn: That looks fabulous! Thanks.

    Kate: I find soaking onions in vinegar or water tames them when used raw, but I can definitely understand not liking a particular texture. Fortunately my social life is minimal, lol.

  4. Okay, you convinced me. I’ll be making this soon. Except I might double the amount of shallots. Can’t hurt, right? Or maybe I’ll just leave out the green beans.

  5. Erielle: Well Carolyn’s recipe is making me think that these could be cooked whole. I need to see if Molly Stevens braised them. Somebody must have!

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