Sunday, July 25, 2010

for flavor

A number of years ago, after reading Anthony Bourdain's memoir Kitchen Confidential, I decided to incorporate shallots into my cooking. Bourdain wrote that shallots were even more essential than butter if you wanted to learn to make your food taste professional. Subtler than onion, more complex than garlic and yet as versatile as both, they've been a staple in my pantry ever since.

It also didn't hurt that my first shallot experience required me to sauté them with diced bacon.

Recently though, during a trip to Penzey's I noticed they were selling shallot salt. I read the ingredients on the label.

Dried shallots. Salt.

"Oooh," I thought. "I could make this!"

I bought a bag of shallots from the wholesale club and minced them very finely in the food processor. Shortly thereafter, between coughing and wiping the burning tears from my eyes, I realized I had probably just invented a weapons-grade chemical agent. Proper ventilation, and perhaps goggles, are required.

I spread the shallot paste on the parchment I had cut to fit the trays of my food dehydrator, sprinkled some sea salt on top and let it all dry for 24-48 hours. I can't remember exactly how long or at what temperature, but I don't think you can really over dry this. After a couple days, I put the mixture back into the food processor with even more sea salt and a little dried homegrown parsley. I whizzed it all together until it seemed done, and ended up making almost 6 cups of shallot salt for far less than what I might have spent in a gourmet store.

The aroma coming from those little jars is absolutely divine, by the way - I keep opening them to have another sniff. And I could tell you all about how it makes a humble strip steak something so deliciously good that you close your eyes in ecstasy and murmur, "Oh. my. God." between bites...but that would just be cruel.

18 comments:

CircuitGizmo said...

This sounds excellent! I want to be as low-salt as possible, so I would do this with an absolute minimum of salt.

Very tempting. I'd have to get a food dehydrator, though. What type/brand do you use?

Mmmm. Shallots in bacon.

Breda said...

I just got a cheap dehydrator from walmart. Fine for fruits, veggies and herbs.

CircuitGizmo said...

Thanks, Breda. I just started looking on Amazon for one, but was then inspired to look on Amazon for dried shallots. I found some from "Barry Farm Foods" $2 for 4 oz. So I bought some as well as some dried red bell pepper.

I'll put the dehydrator on my Christmas list. My wife will ask me to by one for her to give to me. :-P All I have to do is list the things I'll cook and that will convince her. That is the same reason I have 5 slow-cookers (crock pots).

Anyway - thanks! Back to the race!

reflectoscope said...

I reckon after the fleas no-one will complain if you have a bit of favourable luck like this.

Jim

Peter said...

So, Breda, does this mean you're channeling 'The Lady of Shallot'?

;-)

Lydia said...

multiple jars? I imagine one should be shipping to Colorado Springs. Also, if you figure out a way to make gluten free beef jerky, I will reward you with sexual favors...

Janelle said...

@Lydia Gluten Free Beef Jerky recipe.

We'll discuss payment later. ;)

OrangeNeck said...

Ooooh, I have a food dehydrator. Looks like I'm going to do some dehydrating some time soon. Unless I happen to find a little surprise in my mailbox (nudge wink)

Borepatch said...

Ooooh, Shallot salt!

100% agree on the usefulness of shallots. Bacon and shallot sounds like it's entirely made of win.

CircuitGizmo said...

Lydia and Janelle: Please employ video tape.

Mike W. said...

The addition of bacon sounds amazing!

Lissa said...

I can haz??

Hmm, food dehydrator. Mayhaps I need to put this on my wish list . . .

Old NFO said...

Dang, between you and Brigid, I'm gonna weigh 400 lbs... :-) But that IS a great idea!

falnfenix said...

i'd like you to know i'm now drooling and it's not lunchtime. this is incredibly unfair.

Mike W. said...

Yeah Faln, between Brigid & Breda's blog that happens to me a lot.

instinct said...

You can actually do your own dehydrator just fine.

All you need is a fan with a flat front grill, some new AC filters and some clean paper towels.

Put the items to be mummified onto the paper towels and place on top of the AC filter. cover with paper towel and put another AC filter on top of that.

Then, just strap the whole thing to the front of the fan (works best if the fan is the same size as the filters) and turn it on. Soon you will have tasty, dehydrated goodness.

Learned that one from Alton Brown

Tam said...

"...but that would just be cruel."

Yes. Yes it would.

desertdefender.com said...

I don't know what shallots are, but your description makes it sound tasty.

Must research this.