Sunday, March 14, 2010

Shallot Confiture

This month's Tigress' Can Jam focused on alliums, or the onion family, only one of the largest plant genera in the world. Yes, the world! Another great pick! There were a ton of recipes that called to me, more than I thought, but this one sang my name. I am so excited about this. Shallot Confiture. Lord, it's gorgeous. Steve was totally making fun of me. When I was pulled it from the boiling water, I was doing Rocky poses and kissing my biceps. I am a total dork. So what. Go ask that woman who wrote the article in Slate, she knows what a trendy loser I am! (I know I shouldn't give her more press, but whatever, I'm feeling punchy. I think it's funny that she owns Mes Confitures. Now who's calling who ridiculous? Okay, got that out of my system.)

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.


  1. this looks amazing! how will you possibly wait 2 months to eat them??

  2. There is a story a very old story,when the only warning ancient cities had that Alexander the great was returning was the smell of onions in the air..why? the major part of the armies diet were.. onions a true story btw. an Army marches on its stomach Napolean said..
    I would have your wonderful Shallot confiture in a sandwich, lightly toasted Italian bread and thick slices of 5 year old Cheddar . or as a condiment to good ole Virginia ham.

  3. Wow! a 4-day preserve! True dedication. Sounds utterly fabulous. As for what to do with them (once the agonizing months-long wait is over).. I bet, chopped, one of them would make the Most Amazing Salad Dressing Ever. Mixed up in rice or couscous, tossed with pasta, or smashed into potatoes... Ooooh, use the juice to marinate chicken breasts and serve alongside. I can think of too many things. Shallot Confiture - the Little Black Dress of the preserve world!

  4. And as for that Slate article.. pfftt. Three years ago I was living the high life in Manhattan, with a high-powered job, a fabo UWS apartment right off the Park, plans every night and an oven used for storage. Now I'm self-employed, with little money but lots of time, rarely go out and spend most of my free time foraging at farmer's markets and cooking. Yep - NOW I'm "ridiculously trendy."

    The whole article had a strange push-me-pull-you quality; does she like canning or hate it? Is she poking fun at herself for her own canning projects, or is it snark because too many hipsters have been making fun of her? You know what it reminds me of? You buy this fabulous, yet trendy, dress at a great boutique downtown. You love it and it makes you feel sexy, glamorous, hip. Your boyfriend/girlfriend sees it, laughs and says "Trend much?" Suddenly you hate the dress, throw it in the back of the closet, and resent the whole fashion trend, and anyone who wears it.

  5. Missed the slate article. My interest in canning is really because my grandma made such wonderful jams for us growing up. I never had anything so good from a store. She was also a garden hobbyist and grew the greatest stuff in her backyard. So really it's about keeping that going!

    On to the shallots--these are my favorite allium. I wanted to grow them this yaer but the place I ordered my bulbs from had a crop failure! It absolutely drives me bonkers that shallots can be so expensive because they are, I suppose, "French". They are an onion, and as far as I understand no harder to grow than any other.

    Rant over! So awesome you made shallots--I was keeping my eye out as I didn't have any recipes.

  6. Wow, those look beautiful! I am just trying to imagine what they must taste like. I imagine it must be good. I think I would eat them all by themselves.

  7. That was me up there. I'm figuring out how this works.

  8. Tigress - I won't! At least for all of them. One little guy didn't fit in the jar, so I kept him and some syrup for some instant gratification. I'll just have to be patient for the rest of them...

    NS/Ian - Great story. An army marches on onions--makes sense. Onions are a tough lot. I think your cheddar idea is magnificent, and I happen to have some in the fridge right now. Excellent!

    Kaela - Awesome suggestions. And salad dressing might be first if I can squeeze one shallot on bread with cheese and into a salad. Oh, put the salad on the sandwich! Genius! Lunchtime awaits, and it's only 7 a.m.

    Re Slate: Pfft is right. Totally! I love your story. Guess your not wearing too many dresses these days, eh? You should post your story on Check it out.

    Sara - That's beautiful. Your grandma sounds wonderful. And it's true, it's all so much better! I want to grow them; they are expensive and I love them. You know, Kaela (of Local Kitchen, above, made a nice shallot pickle that you should check out.)

    Carol - Glad you figured it out! Thanks for the comment. Yeah, I'm with you: just eat them!

  9. Hey Julia, I make this to go with specials when I'm really pressed for time. I bring it to a boil then throw it in the oven for 1/2 hour. It is so delicious there's no way it would make it to 2 months. You have much more patience than I do!

  10. Elle- Aha! Interesting. How long do you boil it for? What temperature oven?

  11. omg i never thought of making these myself.
    i can imagine the sweetness to the shallots already!
    yummy. thanks for sharing, dear!

  12. I cannot wait to make this!! I love any kind of savory jam or oniony preserve. I will boiling and letting set all weekend long! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  13. These look fabulous! I see them on a cheese board with aged cheddar and spicy nuts. Great job!

  14. Hey Felicia- I just saw a recipe for candied shallots. How about that?

    A & B - Glad you liked it! I looovved it!

    Cathy - Thanks! And your suggestion is great--I had them with some sharp aged cheddar for lunch. Outrageous.

  15. Not sure how long I boil it.. til the shallots start to soften- we keep our ovens at about 450-500.

  16. Julia,

    Hey thanks for the comment about my post (Citivolus sus)- I saw your post this morning and made a note to ask you -- so where did your recipe start (I figure none of us actually follow any recipe to a T)? I'm on day four of round two of shallot comfiture today - had to make more. Next time though, I think I'm leaving out the cinnamon and upping the lemon/orange zest. Round two shall be posted this weekend.
    What do you plan to do with your shallots - other than eat them straight out of the jar (or pot as I've been doing today)?


  17. Elle - Thanks. I'm going to try that.

    Jenn - So cool that you're doing round two! I've got to do it. I'll look for your post. I keep on looking at that one jar I made thinking: only one?? There were tons of good ideas on the eating of it. I loved it with bread and aged cheddar. But then, I only had one shallot to work with--the rest are in the jar. Boo hoo. The syrup was stellar in a dressing and with a vegetable hash I made.

    So, I don't know what you mean by where did my recipe start? Did I read that right?

  18. Beautiful. Oh, I can't wait to make these when my shallots come in.

    Several posters mentioned wanting to grow shallots--though I'm growing a variety I ordered from a Seed Savers member this year, in the past, I've grown what I purchased from the farmers' market. They're super easy, even easier than garlic; plant in the fall, harvest in the late spring-early summer. Woohoo!

  19. Christina - That sounds like such a great idea. I've been wanting to plant shallots for a long time and have read it so easy and the yield (compared to their prices in the store) is worth it alone. You're in CA though right? I think my season might be, like, uh, now?

  20. I've made this over the past few days. I harvested a lot of shallots last week, and searched the internet for the most delicious-sounding ways to preserve them - this won! It wasn't difficult, and smelled wonderful (if you like vinegar, which I do). It's also beautiful in the jars. Thanks for sharing!

  21. Scyrene - Isn't this amazing?? I love how gorgeous it looks, and it tastes even better. Thank you for letting me know you made it!