Like sliced bread and butter, this shallot jam is invaluable to have around. On that note, it’s also wonderful on buttered toast. Or smeared inside a grilled cheese. Or turned into a super-vinaigrette with olive oil and white wine vinegar. Or tossed with hot pasta and Greek yogurt. Or served alongside skillet pork chops or roast chicken or—you get the idea. It’s good with everything except ice cream, and honestly, I haven’t tried that, so who knows?
If you don’t have or don’t like malt vinegar, any variety will do the trick here. Try white wine, red wine, rice, sherry, or anything similarly mild mixed with something punchy like balsamic or black. The vinegar gets added in two stages: First, to deglaze the pan and loosen everything up. Second, to add a bam-pow of acidity at the very end.
Make sure you taste the jam before you call it a day. More salt? More vinegar? It should taste full and round and ultra-savory.
P.S.: To sidestep the inevitable sobbing that comes with dicing shallots, stick them in the freezer for 30 to 45 minutes before starting, or invest in a pair of goggles. Read more on the science behind this here. —Emma Laperruque
Watch This Recipe
about 1 1/2 cups
Neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed
shallots, peeled and chopped
malt vinegar (or another variety), divided
Set a wide saucepan over medium heat and add enough oil to thinly coat the bottom. Add the shallots and salt.
Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until the shallots have significantly softened and turned a pale, almost-transparent pink.
Remove the lid and drop the heat to medium-low. Stir in the sugar along with a small splash (about 1 tablespoon) of water. Continue cooking for 30 minutes—uncovered, stirring occasionally, and deglazing with water (about 1 tablespoon at a time) if anything starts to stubbornly stick.
Stir in 4 tablespoons of the vinegar. Continue cooking for another 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the texture is as jammy as you’d like. At this point, stir in the remaining vinegar, then cut the heat.
Taste and add more vinegar or salt, if you’d like.
Let cool, then jar and refrigerate for up to a couple weeks. If the jam becomes too stiff once chilled, you can loosen with a bit of water, vinegar, or both.
Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.