The Easiest Way To Peel A Shallot

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Shallots are a top-tier allium. Sweeter and less harsh than yellow or red onions but every bit as flavorful, they’re one of those magic ingredients that make everything taste just a little bit more delicious. But they also make you work for it: Peeling shallots is a universally despised task, and for good reason.

Whether you’re intimately familiar with the pain in the arse that is peeling shallots or new to the experience, you know what I’m talking about. Shallot skin is thin, delicate and fundamentally opposed to sloughing off in one satisfying piece, preferring instead to break off into increasingly smaller shreds the more you try to prevent exactly that from happening. It’s both maddening and mind-numbing work, the worst possible combination.

The only way to win this horrible game is to refuse to play it in the first place. Instead of pawing at the skins with my stubby nails—or going through the trouble of blanching them—I simply sacrifice the outermost layer. After slicing off the root and the top end, I run the tip of my knife down the length of the shallot, cutting all the way through the first layer. Then I peel it off, skin and all. Not only does this eliminate the need to fiddle around with those annoying skins, it makes it super easy to separate the bulbs and get on with my recipe.

If this sounds kind of wasteful, I promise it’s not all that bad: The outer layer of a shallot is often a little shriveled and gross; even if you manage to peel off every last flake of skin, you might end up tossing it anyways. If you can’t bear to throw ‘em out, you can save the castoffs for stock—shallot scraps provide all the onion-y goodness you could ask for and are mild enough to throw in by the handful. You now know how to peel them in a flash, that’s a very good thing indeed.


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