If you’re gluten free, or cook for anyone who is, you’re going to love this.
If you’re a foodie, you’re going to love this.
If you’re a huge fan of French’s French Fried Onions and can’t imagine why anyone would want to do any unnecessary work when they could just open up a can of those – you might not be interested in this at all.
I came across this technique a couple years ago when I was making Green Bean Casserole for Thanksgiving. One of the essential ingredients, the french fried onions, are full of gluten. (As is cream of mushroom soup. Thanksgiving is a marathon of prep for us, isn’t it? Anyway.) For a couple years I had substituted (gasp) Funyuns for the crunchy onion topping we know so well. They’re GF. Who knew? And for the record, if you can get past the horror of seeing Funyuns on your Thanksgiving table, they’re not actually that bad of a substitute.
But after a couple years of Funyun Thanksgivings I saw someone on TV, I can’t even remember who, making their Green Bean Casserole with crispy fried shallots on top. Plain onions with no coating can be fried and end up crispy? I was intrigued so I tried it.
Never going back. They’re seriously easy to make and are so impressive on top of a wide variety of foods. I prepare them almost every time I make mashed potatoes. So good, so easy, so impressive. What’s not to love?
Here’s what you do. Slice up your shallots as thinly as you can. I probably have five shallots here. Shallots are the little pinkish-brown ones. They’re exceptionally sweet as onions go. Our grocery store stocks them next to the garlic.
Next, heat a couple inches of oil until very hot. You can reuse oil, did you know that? Just strain it and put it in tupperware in the fridge. That way you don’t have to feel like you’re wasting oil every time you need to deep fry something. The oil will get darker with each use so when it gets too dark just toss it.
I didn’t use a thermometer this time but if you are, we’re working in the 350-375 range. Add your shallots, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. (This ^ is me not following my own advice.) Toss the onions around every once in a while just to make sure they’re not sticking together.
You want to cook them until they are golden brown. The onions are not going to be stiff and crispy when you pull them out of the oil. That happens when you lay them on a paper towel lined plate to drain.
I use a strainer to pull them out quickly. These are just a shade darker than I prefer but still absolutely wonderful. At this point you can salt them or season them as you like – you don’t want to salt them beforehand, it’s not good for the oil. I have no idea why, but that’s what I was taught when I worked at Burger King a million years ago.
These would be a delightful topping on any casserole, piled high on a burger, scattered atop mashed potatoes or meatloaf. They would add a great salty crunch to a salad and would make a beautiful garnish on any number of soups. Fried shallots have so many uses and it only takes a couple minutes to make them. So please do. Your foodie/gluten free/fried-food-loving friends will thank you for it.
Crispy Fried Shallots
shallots, as many as you want to do, sliced as evenly and thinly as you can (mine were probably 3mm thick)
enough oil to cover your pan 2 inches deep ( you can use less than that, maybe an inch deep, but it’s harder to control the temperature of your oil the less you use)
Heat oil until very hot (350-375 degrees) and add in sliced shallots (add in batches if doing more than 4 or 5 so as not to crowd the pan. The oil should sizzle frantically when you put them in. Stir the pan occasionally to make sure the shallots are not sticking together.
Fry until golden brown (I have never timed this – I’ve always gone by the color – it takes a few minutes). Using a small strainer, remove them to a paper towel lined plate. The shallots will still be wiggly when you remove them from the oil, they will crisp up as they drain.
These are best used right away. Refrigerating fried foods always makes them lose their crispness.