Food Articles


Shallot Gigantism

April 3, 2013

Not to get all Andy Rooney here, but when (and why) did shallots get to be the size of onions? Lately I've been reduced to buying the supermarket kind, and each one seems huger than the last. In warmer weather the Greenmarkets do sell different varieties that have been bred for both size and flavor, but the industrial kind are just indelicate onions. Maybe it's part of the American "bigger is better" attitude; as an editor noted the other day, even our couches are huge in this country. But given that I buy these guys mostly to add a little life to vinaigrette, I wind up wasting most of what I tote home because shallots, like any kitchen lily, go wan once they've been cut. (Although I have found they hold up well if you chop them and steep them with cream and lots of coarse-grain mustard to make a reheatable flash sauce for duck breast, beef, fish, turkey or freekeh.) What's interesting is that recipe writers can no longer safely specify "1 shallot, minced." The one here measures 3 by 2 inches and weighs an eighth of a pound. That would make a mess of mignonette.

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