So: is this ever going to look pretty on a shelf, all backlit, or what?? Shallot Confiture, let's just say it again, shall we? This was a four-day extravaganza of boiling and sitting and boiling and sitting. But that's all easy, really. In the end you have a bunch of translucent purplish-brown pods that have been infused with a spice-laden vinegar syrup. Vinegar syrup? How can you be so good? To be honest, I haven't really thought of how I'm going to eat this. This is no work horse chutney or every day jelly. This is something that deserves the spotlight. The suggestion is warm or cold, with meats. I'm thinking with a pork roast, or a salad even? On top of ice cream? I don't know, help me out. I'm a little star struck at the moment. The pictures do it no justice at all. (It's been gray and rainy for days.)
The recipe is from the surprisingly good book, The Everything Canning and Preserving Book by Patricia Telesco with Jeanne P. Maack. There are some really interesting recipes in here. To be honest, I was turned off by the title--too general, and boring--but I was wrong. There are some interesting ideas in there. The recipe itself was clear and concise. I made a micro-batch and split it by a third. I should have done the whole thing because it was time and effort, and I'd be happy just looking at more of it on the shelf. There's a lot of caraway in this, which I wasn't sure of. But it works. The spices are just magnificent: spicy and peppery, sweet and tart. What I kept on wondering was: who made this up and why for?? It seemed like it would be good in an ornate bowl on a Renaissance table filled with fruit, wine and large joints of meat.
Here is my small-batch and to the point recipe:
1 pound of shallots
1/2 cup pickling salt
2 3/4 cider vinegar
1 cup and 1 T sugar
1 cardamom pod
1/2 tsp lemon zest
A two inch piece of cinnamon
1/2 tsp dried chili pepper
1/2 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp black peppercorns
1/8 cup of caraway seeds
Day One: Peel shallots, leaving root end intact. Put in bowl, sprinkle with salt. Add water to cover, stirring to dissolve salt. Submerge shallots completely with a weighted plate. Cover with a towel, put in a cool place and let sit 24 hours.
Day Two: Drain and rinse shallots, and dry them with a towel. Put vinegar and sugar in a pot. Put all spices, except caraway, in a ball or cheesecloth and add to pot. Add caraway. Medium heat until sugar dissolves. Then bring to boil--and boil for ten minutes. Add shallots and simmer for fifteen. Remove pot from heat and let sit, covered, for 24 hours.
Day Three: Bring shallots slowly to a boil. Simmer for fifteen minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let sit another 24 hours.
Day Four: Slowly bring shallots to a boil again. Simmer until shallots are golden brown and translucent. (Mine stayed a little purple.) Discard spice ball. Place into sterilized jars. Remove air pockets. Process for ten minutes. Store in a cool, dark place for 2 to 3 months for flavors to develop. Kiss those guns.