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).
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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.
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