Allium Invasion

As you may or may not know, shallots are from the ALLIUM family: a bulbous plant of a genus that includes the onion and its relatives (e.g., garlic, leek, scallions and chives). With our Slow-Roasted Chicken with All the Garlic stuffed with shallots and scallion greens and surrounded by a cup or more of garlic cloves, a side of Crispy Shallots and the White Onion, Fennel and Watercress Salad, we were definitely on allium overload. Great for your health, not so much for your breath. But we didn’t care, no one else was around.

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This beauty is almost frame-worthy!

About that chicken. Words can’t almost describe how succulent and flavorful this bird was with perfectly crisped skin! And while one of the ingredients was green garlic, we were not successful in obtaining it, stuffing the cavity with shallots and scallion greens instead. Then you let mother nature do the rest. No need to turn, baste or otherwise touch it until time to remove from the oven. Easy button!

Once finished roasting—and we cooked our 4-pounder the full 3 hours, which seemed extreme to us—but the bird was fall-off-the-bone tender, and not dried out at all. We did not turn the garlic and lemon wedges either, as noted in the directions, (we thought it would be difficult given how tightly packed the baking dish was) and they both were roasted to perfection and made tasty accompaniments to the chicken. Lip-smacking good as they say…

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The chicken, lemon wedges and garlic cloves in a 2-quart baking dish ready for the oven.

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A close-up of the somewhat caramelized garlic and lemon after roasting for 3 hours.

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We added thinly sliced radishes to our White Onion, Fennel and Watercress Salad.

And the shallot side dish, it just might be our new addiction. Fung Tu’s miraculous crisp-tangy shallots appeared in a small sidebar in the back of a recent issue of Bon Appétit (recipe follows.) What I didn’t realize, until after we had shopped for groceries, was this sidebar linked to a main article with a recipe for Stir-Fried Asparagus with Bacon and Crispy Shallots.

It was our intention to have the crispy shallots as a side dish—as opposed to a garnish on a side dish—to accompany our roasted chicken dinner. So with that intent, we quadrupled the amount of shallots and increased the other ingredients; eliminating the asparagus and bacon altogether.

The pickling process lends an irresistible acidity and “funk,” so it’s important that you don’t overlook this step. And the key to the crispy coating is the dredge of flour and cornmeal. Thinking regular table salt would stick better than Kosher salt, we liberally sprinkled the shallots immediately after placing them on the paper-towel lined rack. Of course you can make them as a garnish, in which case decrease the amounts shown in the recipe below.

The concept of black vinegar was new to me. Shouldn’t be a problem finding it at our local Asian foodmart, right? Well they carried “brown” vinegar, but no black. Russ swore he previously saw it at our regular grocery store and that’s where we were headed next. Sure enough, in the ethnic aisle with the other Asian ingredients, there it was!

Lessen on black versus brown vinegar:

Chinese black vinegar is an aged vinegar which is typically made from rice, but can also be made from wheat, millet, sorghum, or a combination of any of the four. It has a deep black color, similar to that of balsamic vinegar. It is less sweet, less acidic, and has a strong fragrant flavor that is almost spicy in nature.

Brown (or malt) vinegar is made by malting barley causing the starch in the grain to turn to maltose. Ale is then brewed from the maltose and allowed to turn into vinegar, which is then aged. It is typically distinctive dark brown color. However, most supermarket vinegar is actually extracted from beetroot. It has a strong flavor. As its name implies, malt vinegar has a distinctive malt flavor.

Slow-Roasted Chicken with All the Garlic

Ingredients 

  • 4 green garlic bulbs
  • 1 3½–4-pound chicken
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup peeled garlic cloves
  • 1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges, seeds removed
  • ½ cup olive oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Trim dark tops from green garlic and place in chicken cavity; loosely tie legs together with kitchen twine.
  2. Halve green garlic bulbs and pale-green parts. Place chicken in a 2-qt. baking dish; season with salt and pepper. Tuck green garlic, garlic cloves, and lemon wedges around (make sure everything fits snugly to keep garlic from getting too dark); pour oil over.
  3. Roast, turning garlic and lemon occasionally, until chicken is very tender and garlic is soft and deeply caramelized, 2½–3 hours. Serve chicken with garlic and lemon alongside.

Recipe from Alison Roman of Bon Appétit

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Crisp-Tangy Shallots

Ingredients (our version, reduce quantities if using as a garnish)

  • 1/2 cup black vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sherry vinegar
  • 8 shallots
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (or gluten-free)
  • 3/4 cup fine-grind cornmeal
  • Kosher (or table) salt

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For safety, Russ wears a kevlar glove to thinly slice the shallots on a mandoline.

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We found marinating them in a zip-loc bag was easier than in a bowl. This is the color after one hour.

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The marinated rings are dredged in a 50-50 ratio of flour and cornmeal.

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Even though we tested with a thermometer, we a wanted to make sure the oil was hot enough before we added the first batch.

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Working in batches, we fried the shallots for 3 minutes each time, making sure to let the oil get hot enough again between batches.

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Removing the onion rings with a slotted spoon.

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Each batch is placed onto a paper-toweled lined rack over a baking sheet.

Directions

  1. Lightly pickle thinly sliced shallot rings in a mixture of the black and sherry vinegars.
  2. After an hour, drain, pat dry. Whisk the flour and cornmeal in a shallow bowl, then dredge the shallot rings in the mixture, shaking off excess.
  3. Heat 2″ vegetable oil to 300 degrees. Fry shallots, tossing occasionally until golden brown, about 3 minutes.
  4. Drain on paper towels and immediately season with ample salt.

 

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