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.