There are those in my generation who may remember a TV game show from the early 1990's: Supermarket Sweep. The show pitted two couples against each other in a supermarket and culminated in a frenzied shopping spree. The point of the spree was to fill your cart with the highest-value items in the allotted time. Everyone went for the shallots, which were inexplicably located on a dry-goods shelf, individually packaged in a cardboard box. Why weren't they in the produce section? Could they have tasted any good packaged like that? This pop-culture childhood memory has colored my opinion of shallots to this day. They are luxury, high-value, worthy of a shopping spree. So please understand the thrill I get at the above picture of my most recent accomplishment: a braid of homegrown shallots.
This spring, while the soil was still cold and the weather raw, I planted big, fat shallot bulbs in my backyard. They cheerily sprouted and produced....lots of small shallots. Apparently big bulbs yield many small shallots and small bulbs yield a few big shallots. So, I'm saving my small shallots and replanting them next spring to see if this advice holds. I saved the biggest (most are the size of a fat garlic clove) and braided them into clusters, for drying by the kitchen window. I can twist them off for a vinaigrette or Thai fried rice and luxuriate in their abundance.
If I wanted to blow all of my shallot treasure in one wildly delicious meal, I would make a bowl of shallot and cherry confit. This is possibly the single best recipe I have ever clipped from Martha Stewart Living -- and that is saying a lot, coming from me, an inveterate recipe clipper and unabashed Martha fan. This is more of a jam than a true confit. It is rich, sweet and packed with flavor. Cut a baguette into slices, smear it with some warm, soft goat cheese and pile a heaping spoonful of this confit on top. This is the humble allium at its finest, and most luxurious.