I got a pretty unique package in the mail from my Aunt Nancy recently.
When I opened it up, this is what I found:
She had sent me home-grown shallots and garlic. After I trimmed them a bit and put them in bowls, this is what they looked like
I’ve never used shallots before and pretty much had no idea what to expect, so I peeled one just to see what it was like.
Then I may have nibbled a bit at it to see what it tasted like
Then I may have had to brush my teeth because it was both onion-y and garlic-y.
Anyway, I was on the lookout for recipes that used shallots. My Aunt Lilith was in town and described a dish that Julia Child made with chicken breasts and shallots. Not long after, I found a recipe that seemed to follow Julia’s pretty closely, so I decided to go for it.
The recipe called for four chicken breasts, pounded thin. Since my chicken breasts were pretty big, I elected to slice them into cutlets instead of pounding them. Make your big breast jokes now, I’ll wait.
I heated a tablespoon of butter in a large skillet with some olive oil.
While the butter melted, I seasoned the chicken with salt and pepper.
Then I put the chicken cutlets in the pan to begin searing.
While they sizzled, I turned to the shallots. It was time to chop them up. Physically, they seemed pretty similar to garlic, so I treated them similarly. I crushed them slightly with the knife to loosen the skins and then peeled the cloves.
Interestingly, when I cut into them, I discovered that they’re more like onions on the inside, with layers. Very interesting.
Next, I got out some of the homegrown garlic and did the same to it.
I probably should have diced the garlic much more finely, but I was trying to watch a movie and make dinner at the same time, and cutting the garlic any finer seemed like too much of an effort at the time. That’s how I roll.
The chicken’s doing well. I flipped it over to cook the other side.
When it was just about cooked through, I took the chicken out and put it on a plate. It could have used another minute or two, but it was going to go back in the pan later so it didn’t need to be finished up yet.
To everything that was left in the skillet, I added the chopped shallots and garlic, plus a little basil from a tube of pureed fresh basil that I had in the fridge. The basil wasn’t in the recipe, but it seemed appropriate. Plus, my aunt had suggested adding herbs at this point. So I did.
Next, I added some white wine and let it warm up, and then some chicken broth. Because some reviewers complained that the sauce was too runny in the end, I thickened the chicken broth with some corn starch before adding it.
After about 5 minutes of simmering, I added two tablespoons of butter and reduced the heat to let it melt slowly.
Finally, when it was about done, I returned the chicken to the pan to let it cook in the sauce for a few minutes. The recipe didn’t say to do that, but my aunt did, and it sounded good to me.
And that was that!
I served with some boxed roasted garlic mashed potatoes (always surprisingly yummy) and sautéed zucchini and mushrooms. The dish was pretty elegant and is something that I would serve company. The flavor was rich and complex, and the creamy sauce would have gone nicely over rice or some pasta. The recipe is here and I’ll put it in the recipes tab, as well.
Now, what else can I make with shallots?