Soft, sweet, tangy, and salty—this is probably the best expression of an allium there is. Cooking shallots slowly and then glazing them with aged balsamic vinegar, which is slightly viscous, helps create a glossy lacquer and brings out all of the shallots’ natural sweetness.
Although you can prepare this dish year-round, it’s particularly lovely when you start to see fresh shallots at the market in early fall. The fresh ones will cook much faster than the storage ones, so keep a close eye on them while they cook. This is a good side dish to make ahead of time. It’s more elegant than a knotted nest of caramelized onions, and you can serve it straight out of the pan if you like.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- 1½ pounds shallots (see Note)
- 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon plus
- 1½ teaspoons 10-year aged balsamic vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Trim and peel the shallots but leave a bit of the root end intact so the shallots don’t break apart during cooking. In a mixing bowl, toss the shallots with the oil and salt.
- Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until very hot. Add the shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until they are a deep chestnut color on all sides, 7 to 8 minutes. Cover the pot, transfer it to the oven, and cook until the shallots are completely soft and offer no resistance, 20 to 30 minutes, depending on their size.
- Add the vinegar, return the pot to the oven, and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes more. Stir the shallots carefully so they don’t fall apart too much and cook for another 5 minutes, until the vinegar is just caramelized but not burning. Keep a close eye on the vinegar, as it can burn easily.
- Serve immediately for the best presentation. The shallots can be made up to 1 hour in advance, however, and then reheated in a 375°F oven for 5 to 7 minutes, until heated through. (They will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week and can be used any time you would use caramelized onions, such as on sandwiches and in salads.)