But the pickled-est bite to eat is onion that you see… in sherry vinegar and seasonal spices! Yes, it’s beginning to look SHALLOT like Christmas!
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That perennial festive earworm, It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas was written in 1951 by Meredith Willson and was a hit for Perry Como and The Fontane Sisters. It’s been covered by numerous artists (Michael Bublé, Big Bird and Alvin And The Chipmunks notwithstanding) and a Jonny Mathis version featured prominently in Home Alone 2 – but it is the Perry Como version that is best known (and you probably heard it on the radio at some point this week!)
That’s all well and good, I hear you cry, but where’s the link to musicals? Well, it featured in a pre-broadway version of Meredith Wilson’s musical Here’s Love and features on the original cast recording. And there you were thinking we had included this recipe just for a seasonal pun… the very idea!!
What could be more Christmassy than the Perry Como classic – shallots pickled in sherry vinegar and festive spices, of course!
Peel the shallots (I emptied a kettle of boiling water over them and, when cooled, drained and peeled them to save me from tears,
and give it to someone special…
– oh sorry, wrong song!) Soak the shallots in a brine solution made from salt and water, and weight them down with a saucer to keep the shallots submerged for 24-48 hours.
On pickling day, add sherry vinegar, cider vinegar, honey, mustard seeds, a cinnamon stick, cloves, peppercorns, allspice, coriander seeds and a star anise to a pan and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Allow the now aromatic vinegar to cool.
Meanwhile, drain the shallots and dry with kitchen roll, giving them a gentle squeeze to remove any excessive brine. Pour the vinegar into a jug through a sieve, discarding the cinnamon and anise.
Pack the shallots into sterilised jars along with the remaining spices and fill the jar with the cooled spiced vinegar before sealing the jars. The shallots will need to pickle for at least a month before eating.
The quantities I used filled two 400ml Kilner jars (mason jars) nicely.