Caramelised shallot sauce:

Caramelised shallot sauce:

This very cosmopolitan sauce can be used in all sorts of ways, with a great many different ingredients. It’s not difficult to make, but you do need to keep an eye on it as it will catch and burn if you are not careful.

Shallots are of the onion family but grow in bunches or clumps, rather than individually as we normally see onions growing.  There are round-ish ones and there are the more elongated ones, called échalote in France.  You can use either in this sauce, but I have to say that I prefer the more elongated échalote version for this purpose.


  • 8 or 10 shallots (see above)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (whatever sugar you have – don’t use a sweetener)
  • 2 + glasses of white wine
  • Tomato puree (a squeeze or a dollop)
  • 1 mug of veg/chicken stock (probably made with 2 veg/chicken stock cubes)
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • Butter
  • Oil
  • Frying pan


  • Top, tail and peel the shallots – the paper-like skin will come away easily, the next layer may be tough and it needs to go – and slice them along their length rather than chop them.
  • Fry them over a medium heat in a little butter and oil for a few minutes and then add the sugar to the frying pan. Keep it all moving for a couple of minutes to melt together.  Don’t allow it to burn at all or you’ll have to start all over again.  It should colour up quite quickly.
  • Add the wine and the stock, stirring all the time. Turn the heat up.
  • Add the tomato puree. Keep stirring.
  • Gently boil to reduce the sauce by one-third, then mix the cornflour with a little water in a mug and add that to the pan, stirring all the time. This will need to cook out for about 8 to 10 minutes, gently simmering, stirring frequently.  If the sauce is too thick, add more stock or wine but don’t thin it too much as it is not supposed to be too runny.
  • Taste, then season as necessary.
  • A good ground black pepper will lift the flavour beyond belief.

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