Ruhlman’s Twenty

Let me start by saying that Ruhlman is one of my heroes. I always learn from him, always. His style really appeals to me: always a no nonsense approach to cooking that is filled with common sense and a guts. I really enjoy reading his work not just for pleasure but as a form of ongoing education.

I was thrilled to receive a press copy of his newest book. Ruhlman’s Twenty. This is not the sort of book that you an review by looking through it. You really have to read it, almost as a textbook, and then apply the principles taught.

And I did just that. But before I go into that, let me tell you about this book: It is divided into sections like water, onion, poach, roast… that may seem random but are really not. Ruhlman has focused on many staples ways of working in the kitchen and really shown how to make them shine.  Each section explains the technique and then provides recipes. The photos, which will make you hungry in an instant, are all shot by his wife Donna.

I adore cooking with onions, they are a critical part of my recipes, so needless to say, the first section I turned to was on onions. I learned the difference between sweating and caramelizing onions but more importantly, I learned a technique for sweating onions with a bacon rind on top of them (there is a recipe, you should buy the book for that alone).

The recipe that I am posting here is about how to roast shallots. I made these as soon as I read the recipe and let me tell you, your taste buds will thank you for a long time to come.

My verdict on this book? Buy it and find a prominent place in your kitchen to display it. Before you cook, anything, open the book and read a section. You will learn a lot and your dishes will be better for it.

Ruhlman’s Roasted Shallots

Makes 1 roasted shallot per shallot

Roasting shallots makes them very soft and very sweet. They make a fantastic garnish and ingredient. Add them to soups, stews, or sauces, or purée them in vinaigrettes. Serve them whole alongside roast beef, pork, or chicken, or chop them to a paste and heat them with a little water and butter, seasoned with vinegar, for a quick pan sauce. They couldn’t be easier to prepare.

Shallots, unpeeled, roots cut off

Butter or canola or olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C/gas 6.

Put the shallots on a piece of aluminum foil large enough to enclose them or in a cast iron pan. For each shallot, add about 1 teaspoon of butter or oil. Sprinkle with salt and a few grinds of pepper. If using foil fold it around the shallots and seal tightly.

Roast until the shallots are completely soft and a knife can be inserted without resistance, about 1 hour. When the shallots are cool enough to handle, remove the skins. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Recipe and image reprinted with permission from “Ruhlman’s Twenty” by Michael Ruhlman (Chronicle Books, 2011)

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