When it comes to cooking great food, sometimes simpler is better. But simple doesn't have to mean boring—part of being a good cook means knowing how to coax big flavors out of even the plainest ingredients.
"There's nothing earth shattering about slicing shallots and cooking them down before throwing them on a steak," says Bruce Bromberg, who, along with this brother, Eric, owns the 16 Blue Ribbon restaurants in New York, Vegas and London. "But when you cook them like a confit, low and slow, it really maximizes their incredible flavor."
Slow-cooking the shallots in olive oil mellows both their bite and their sweetness, resulting in a rich, earthy jam (see the recipe) that lends itself well to everything from soup bases to salad dressings.
Here are a few of the Brombergs' favorite ways to use shallot confit.
Salad Dressing "Take any dressing recipe that calls for chopped shallots, and use a spoonful of the roasted shallots instead for a new flavor and creamier texture," Bruce says. Separate the shallots from their oil, then purée them in a blender with just enough oil to create a smooth, rich paste. Use this paste to create a creamy dressing sans cream, like the one the brothers use on their arugula salad: one cup olive oil, one tablespoon apple cider vinegar, half a tablespoon mustard and one tablespoon puréed shallot confit.
Sandwich Spread Another option for that shallot confit paste is to blend it with a hefty glug of fresh olive oil, creating a thick, aïoli-like spread perfect for slathering across toasted bread for sandwiches, preferably ones filled with rich meats (like lamb or roast pork) or bitter vegetables (think sautéed broccoli rabe).
RELATED Chefs' Secret Weapons »
Steak Topper Upgrade the traditional French combo of steak with onions by mixing together a two-to-one combination of chopped shallot confit and chopped anchovies. Up the complexity by folding in fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary.
Bonus: Shallot Oil Once the shallots have been strained and puréed for any of the above, you'll be left with a pungent shallot-infused olive oil that can be put to use all over the kitchen. Use it as a base for basting meaty fish like mahi, swordfish or sea bass, or drizzle it over roast chicken and pork. Or use it in a non-creamy dressing, swapping the roasted shallots for fresh to provide crunch and a double whammy of shallot flavor.