04/22/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 04/22/2021 13:16
One hot topic that resonates with all line cooks is the Mise-en-place. The organized work station, unique to each cook, keeps the kitchen ready for every order moving smoothly through the line.
It houses all of the essentials- sea salt, rough-cracked pepper, cooking oil, wine, butter, garlic, parsley, and so on.
One item in particular that Tony claimed as a Mise-en-Place essential for all professional kitchens is shallots. His kitchen staff used about twenty pounds daily.
A 'take-away' from Bourdain to home cooks looking to elevate dishes, is to keep shallots on hand for turning out tastier versions of most any preparation.
Shallots are one of those fresh ingredients that we notice parked next to fresh garlic and the onion sections at the grocery store. We frequently see them, but bypass them for regular onion varieties.
Their delicate, mild onion flavor (with a hint of sharpness) is preferred for classic dishes, vinaigrettes, sauces, soups and frying when a hotter onion isn't the right fit.
Shallots are aromatic with a complex blend of spicy, sweet, and pungent flavors. Raw cloves are crisp and astringent. When cooked, they develop a delicate, sweet, and savory taste, reminiscent of garlic.
Ironically, we're going through an industry-wide supply gap in shallot availability. California grown product didn't materialize as forecasted and storage product didn't hold up.
Major suppliers are having to import product from Canada and The Netherlands. Pricing due to imports is escalated as associated costs have increased.
We are looking at the shortage and higher prices to last through summer when new harvests begin. Exotic sounding varieties - French Red, Holland Yellow, Pikant, Matador, Ambition and Saffron - produce distinctive colors and flavors.
Now that they are in short supply, we may covet them more. Don't bypass them when found at markets. Shallots should feel heavy for their size and firm. Avoid any that are sprouted or have soft spots, just as we do for red, yellow and white regular onion varieties.
Explore those kissing cousins for other mild onion choices. Leeks, boilers, pearls and cippolini onions are also good additions or substitutions for regular onions.
Similar to regular onions, shallots should be stored in a cool, dry, dark, and well-ventilated place. Lack of air circulation will reduce shelf life. Store them in a mesh bag, wire basket, or open bowl in pantry or counter top.