Balsamic-Roasted Shallots

December 23, 2013
Photo by Eric Moran
Author Notes

I bet you have shallots in your kitchen right now. They are your right hand man: they're the thrumming foundation of a proper vinaigrette, an early step to your risottos, the start to nearly anything good.

But they're not an unsung hero. To be one, they'd have to be heroic.

In side after side and main after main, shallots don't save the day. They're buried under flashier ingredients, taken for granted; more burly, unwavering constant than raw, undiscovered talent. Under rice, or layers of olive oil, shallots are never waiting to emerge. They aren't about to blow up the scene.

That is, until you let them be their own dish.

Here is how to do it: you crisp them in olive oil and brown sugar, and smother them in thyme and balsamic vinegar. Give them a good swig of sherry, because they, like you, could benefit from a nip around the holidays. You roast them in a hot oven until they're thoroughly slouched.

Once you do those things, you'll have shallots with real courage. Slicked in sweet balsamic, they'll save anything–dinner, your sandwich, that great pile of pasta you just cooked. They can, and will, save your first course, just as soon as you serve them underneath a fat buddha ball of burrata.

Eat them, bite for bite, with your majestic holiday roast, or put them in your detox kale salad next year. Just don't, whatever you do, quiet them with a circus of ingredients. Let your shallots stand alone. Let them be heroic.

Note: This recipe is very easily doubled. Don't fret too much about getting the measurements perfect, either; this is the kind of recipe that begs for a bit of this, a dash of that. —Kenzi Wilbur

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Kenzi Wilbur is our fearless Managing Editor and our expert on all things cocktails and mayonnaise.
WHAT: A way to make shallots into an elegant side, just in time for Thanksgiving dinner.
HOW: Roast halved shallots in a hot oven with olive oil and brown sugar until they’ve developed a nice crust. Take the pan off the heat and quench the shallots in sherry and balsamic vinegar. Shake the shallots around and return them to the oven, covered, until they’re tender.
WHY WE LOVE IT: On the day before a big holiday meal, you’re scrambling to make sure you’ll have enough food to feed the masses. But don’t add just another vegetable side. With minimal chopping, a pound of shallots, pantry ingredients, and a hot oven, you can have crisp, slightly sweet shallots that will complement anything else you’re serving. —The Editors

  • Serves 4 to 6
  • 1 pound shallots, the larger ones halved
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • A three-finger pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon thyme, finely chopped, plus a few whole sprigs
  • 2 tablespoons sherry
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
In This Recipe
  1. Heat oven to 400° F.
  2. Put olive oil in an ovenproof skillet. (Alternatively, you can brown the shallots in whatever pan you like, and then transfer them into a baking dish).
  3. Add the brown sugar, mix to just combine, then add shallots, cut-side down if you've halved any. Brown over medium heat for 10 minutes, flipping once halfway through, or as soon as a beautiful brown crust has developed on the first side.
  4. Take the pan off of the heat, and add everything else -- salt, thyme, sherry, vinegar -- shake the pan a bit, and then cover with foil and roast in the oven until completely cooked through. Depending on the size of your shallots, this can take anywhere from 25 to 40 minutes -- test with a knife every 5 minutes beginning at the 25-minute mark.
  5. Serve warm.

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Kenzi Wilbur

Recipe by: Kenzi Wilbur

I have a thing for most foods topped with a fried egg, a strange disdain for overly soupy tomato sauce, and I can never make it home without ripping off the end of a newly-bought baguette. I like spoons very much.