Glazed shallots are a super addition to a roast dinner. The cooking method allows them to soak up lots of lovely salty flavours to compliment their sweetness. You also end up with some tasty brown goop in the bottom of the pan which adds richness to gravy (especially useful for making veggie gravy).
I find roast dinner can be a bit boring. I hated vegetables when I was a kid and I swear it is because I had to eat plain boiled vegetables on everything (it was 80’s England). I still do not enjoy boiled veg and am constantly looking for new ways to enjoy them. This will make a great addition to your roast turkey at Christmas.
This is a classic French cooking technique which can be used on other vegetables too – carrots are particularly good. The idea is to cook the vegetables slowly in stock & sugar so that they absorb the liquid and it draws out their natural sweetness. The glaze comes from the reduced stock which turns brown & looks lush. The only difficult part is getting the right amount of liquid so that the veg cook evenly and you are left with a thick liquid.
In France glazed onions are often used as a garnish on dishes such as Beef Bourguignon. I often make them to add something sweet to a very savoury dish like this chicken with mushroom sauce. I didnt want to cook the onions in the sauce as they make it sweeter. I just made the sauce with dried & fresh mushrooms so that it had a deep, pure mushroom flavour & then added glazed shallots for sweetness & some crispy leeks fro texture. It worked really well.
This is not a strictly traditional preparation of glazed shallots but I find it works well & can be versatile. Traditionally just water, butter, sugar & salt are added. I use whatever herbs I have available, fresh or dried (use less) are fine. You can change the herbs to compliment the rest of the meal. They add a lovely background flavour to the onions. Once you have mastered the technique the flavours can be jazzed up with manner of things, spices, vinegars, miso, chilli and so on.
Don’t forget to do something with the leftover glaze. It is sticky & rich & makes a great base for a sauce or gravy.
Ingredients (serves 4 as a side):
250g Shallots (the ones in the picture are banana shallots but any variety is fine)
1-2 tbsp butter
2 tsp brown sugar or honey
300-400ml vegetable stock (more if it is needed to cover the vegetables)
2-3 cloves garlic (smashed)
1. Peel the shallots and slice off the base. Try not to take off too many layers of onion. Melt the butter in a frying pan or saucepan (it should be the right size so that the onions fit snugly in one layer – unlike in my example here!).
2. Place the onions into the melted butter & sautee them gently until they are golden brown on that side. Add the garlic & let that fry for a couple of minutes to release the oils.
3. Turn them over & add the rest of the ingredients. Bring everything to a gentle boil & cover with a cartouche (Baking paper with a hole in the middle). This allows them to cook gently while the liquid evaporates slowly.
4. Check them after a few minutes to make sure they are bubbling but not boiling furiously.
The trick here is to get the temperature right so that they onions cook as the water evaporates & leaves a thick sauce in the bottom of the pan. If you get it wrong it doesnt really matter though. If the onions are not cooked enough just top up the water & let them cook a while longer. If the onions are too soft & there is still lots of liquid just take them out & boil the liquid to the required consistency & add them back in.