To me the real difference between a basic, boring sandwich or salad and a really great one are the condiments - the secret weapons of creating great cuisine.
One of my favorites is Shallot Jam It works on sandwiches, salads, eggs, and just about anything else that needs a boost. Shallots are the sweeter little cousin to the onion. Finely diced and slowly cooked in butter they take on a lovely amber color and their natural sweetness deepens. Just caramelized they're lovely but when you introduce a broader spectrum of flavors - sweet, salty, savory, umami - you've got something really special.
Caramelized shallot jam is also one of the easiest Super Condiments you can make. It requires only five ingredients - and patience.
Caramelized Shallot Jam
- 4 large Shallots, finely chopped
- 2 tbls. Butter or olive oil
- 3/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
- Fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup Light brown sugar
Yield about one cup.
Finely chop the shallots, sautee in olive oil or butter until soft. Add sugar and vinegar and salt. Caramelize on medium-low heat until dark amber and very soft and jam-like. Add in finely chopped herbs at the very end, add salt to taste.
You can also make a sugar-free version that I think is even tastier. Omit the brown sugar and let the natural sugars in the shallots carmelize on low for anywhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours. For a vegan version, use olive oil instead of butter.
Experiment with the jam - it makes instant appetizers when atop a cracker and a bit of brie, or on a slice of apple. The sweet-savory flavor plays well with pork, chicken and beef.