Parve, Technique

Caramelized Shallots: A Good Start


The first thing I do, each and every Friday morning, is peel 2 pounds of shallots, chop them finely in the food processor, and then start them caramelizing in a skillet in lots of quality oil. The caramelization process occurs as a result of the natural sugars in shallots. Just as sugar will turn brown and have a deeper flavor, when you apply some heat, so too, the sugars in shallots will caramelize, giving oomph to any recipe calling for members of the onion family.

Since sugar is a carbohydrate, and since so many of us are on low carb high fat diets these days, we want to limit the amount of onion we use in our diet. You can achieve more flavor with fewer carbs by substituting the more-flavorful shallot for it’s less-fancy cousin, the onion. (Warning: shallots are teensy. It takes some time to peel and top them. More time than it takes to peel and top the equivalent number of onions.)

Caramelize the shallots by putting them in a skillet on low, to very low heat, with plenty of oil, but not so much you drown the poor things. Turn the shallots from time to time with a spatula, and as the shallots come closer to a beautiful, deep brown, turn them more often to keep them from burning.

That’s all there is to it! Add the caramelized shallots to vegetable dishes and kugels and your family and friends will be begging you for the secret that makes them taste so good.

Just keep in mind that to properly caramelize the shallots takes lots of time. Hours in fact. Which is why it is the first thing you want to do on a Friday morning, when you’re just beginning your Shabbos cooking.


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