Wed 25 Jul 2018
Read other related stories: Charwood , General Smoking Information
Grilling & Smoking Shallots with a Finesse Technique
By: Chef Calle, Resident Executive Chef
For all my BBQ cooking friends who have been under the assumption that grilling is only for protein food groups, (beef, pork, fish etc.) boy do I have a taste revelation that could transform you into a disciple of the vegetable sections at local farmers markets– Char Grilled and Smoked Shallots!
The process is fairly straightforward but doesn’t get the impression that this food item is something that you can flop on the grill grate and walk away from for an extended period of time. Finesse is the cooking standard that must be applied to enjoy the maximum flavor result rendered from this sweet cousin of the onion family.
You can tell by my strong friendship with the folks at SmokinLicious® Gourmet Wood Products, that I’m a big advocate of grilling with a hardwood fire. It allows for uniform cooking temperatures while simultaneously infuses food items with a natural wood smoke flavor.
So, as we begin, go about preparing your grill with only the best hardwood cooking wood and remember- never, ever start your fire with a chemically based liquid starting fluid. Use a chimney starter!
While your grill preheats to a medium temperature, prepare the whole shallots by cutting off the tips and drizzling them with skins on using the high-quality EVOO and a touch of Kosher salt. You can even season with fresh thyme or sage and let marinate for a few minutes.
Grilled shallots are a great side dish or garnish to prepare alongside your protein or immediately after you have removed your meat to let it rest.
Place the shallots on the grate directly over the outer fringes of the embers, ideally between the smoking wood chips and outer ring of embers. Do not place them directly over the center most concentration of the embers. If you want a slightly stronger smoky flavor, cover. If not, leave uncovered.
Here’s where the finesse part comes in- over the next 3-10 minutes, (depending on the heat and size of the shallots) watch over the shallots like a hawk watches over hatchlings in a nest. Turn often, get a good char on all sides but, for Heaven’s sake – don’t allow them to ignite into a raging conflagration! If this happens, you will lose much of the smoky sweetness and be left with a bitter tasting, burnt onion. You can best determine a great finish when the outer skins are charred nicely while the centers have a soft, moist feel when gently squeezed with cooking tongs or fingers.
Remove from the grill, let them cool a bit. Once cooled for 2-5 minutes lightly squeeze the charred outer skin and out will come the sweet and delicious interior.
After you experience the fabulous smoky flavor of your grilled shallots, I’m sure you’ll have a greater appreciation for all the food flavor benefits that can be had from your backyard grill!