This is a shallot strutting its stuff, like onion rings, but tiny. They sit courteously on top of almost anything and make it even better than it already was. They’re winter’s parsley, not as green and fresh, but perhaps more comforting in their crispy-golden-fried countenance.
Crispy shallots add crunchy appeal to almost anything on a plate. Sprinkle them on soup, salad, mashed potatoes, spinach or kale, sweet potatoes, gratin, scrambled eggs, vegetable dips . . .
You might be thinking, as I did, but there’s the frying in hot oil and I don’t do frying. Yikes. Relatively little ends up on the shallot, you get a lot of mileage out of a few of these and they’re pretty easy and fast to make. Attention is required for the 15 minutes or so of prep and frying. They can be made a few hours ahead, but don’t plan to use these the next day or next week. Best eaten fairly soon. Strain, save and reuse the oil for another batch, or seven. This recipe makes about 1/2 cup, which is enough to garnish 6 servings of just about anything. Double or triple the recipe for feasting. Thanksgiving mashed potatoes will have some crispy shallots sprinkled on top this year, as will Aunt Caroline’s green beans.
Crispy Shallots Recipe
Jerry Traunfeld’s recipe in The Herbfarm Cookbook got me going on this. For convenience and curiosity, I changed one major instruction. I used a LOT less oil for frying than the 4 cups he calls for (and it worked). Also, I didn’t use a thermometer, though it is certainly recommended. For best results use one and heat oil to 325 degrees before frying shallots.
Or, take your chances with a more cavalier approach, which I probably got from my grandmother. Cavalier might not be the right word for she was thoughtful, careful and experienced whenever she fried, usually without a thermometer. Heat oil to very hot, but not smoking. The not smoking part is important – smoking oil burns food. When you think it’s very hot, toss one coated shallot into the oil, a bit of flour or bread, and if it crackles and sizzles then it’s ready. If it sizzles placidly then it’s not. Let the oil heat up a little more. I know. This is seat of the pants. For best results, listen to Jerry and other great chefs and use a thermometer.
However you do it, be cautious. Cooking with hot oil requires focus and care and I wouldn’t consider it if there are little children scooting about underfoot. Wait until they’re in somebody’s arms or asleep.
Ingredients: 3 medium or 2 large shallots/ 1/2 C flour/ 1 cup high-heat vegetable oil/ Salt.
Directions: Peel and slice shallots very thinly, should be about 1 cup/ Place flour in a bowl/ Place a paper towel on a plate/ Toss sliced shallots in flour to coat thoroughly, then place floured shallots in a colander and shake off excess/Heat oil, at least 1 cup, in a heavy, deep-sided pan/ Medium high will bring oil to very hot in 2 or 3 minutes, but as I mentioned earlier, test it along the way and don’t let it get too hot/ If you’re using a thermometer then you’re not doing this by the seat of your pants and that’s good – heat oil to 325 degrees.
When oil is sizzling hot, place all shallots in the pan, separate gently, stirring with a slotted spoon or a skimmer/ Keep stirring gently until shallots become golden brown – a couple of minutes at most/ Remove immediately, place on paper towels, spread and sprinkle with a little salt/ Allow to cool/ They will be crispy and ready to eat immediately, or store in an airtight container for several hours and use later in the day.
Another feast-worthy shallot recipe. Shallots Step Up to the Plate: Caramelized Balsamic Shallots