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Why is my roasted shallot vinaigrette grainy

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

New to the forum, with many other questions on the way, but this has gotten me several times...


I have made roasted shallot vinaigrette both at home with a standard blender and a work with a vitamix (vitaprep?) and for some reason within the first hour the oil separates and the shallots are not fully blending into the mixture, instead becoming very grainy and having a nasty look to them.


I typically use about 10 peeled and broken up shallots tossed in a small amount of olive oil with salt and either black or white pepper.  After the roasting I add about 1/4 cup vinegar (have tried several) with just enough oil to lighten the color of the mixture and actually thin it out, since the shallot and vinegar combo is quite thick on it's own.


Several recipes call for much fewer shallots and the addition of other ingredients (garlic, herbs, etc)  but I like the subtlety of the shallot on it's own, and so have tried to substitute these ingredients with additional shallots.


What is causing the graininess and separation?  Do I need a sharper blade, a faster motor, less shallot overall, less/more acid, less/more oil (usually the color lightens after 5:2 oil to shallot blend) or do I need to add a stablilizer to the mixture such as egg yolk or lecithin?


I have the same trouble with using a blend of highly acidic juices such as lemon or lime as the primary acid in the vinaigrette, although these tend to hold for a couple days rather than a mere hour.  Any advice would greatly help.



post #2 of 8

You'll have to be more specific on the graininess you speak of. Is it just little bits of shallot? Or something else? 


Here are some thoughts.


All vinaigrettes are temporary emulsions, sometimes called fence emulsions. They aren't necessarily made to stay emulsified forever. You see this with a common balsamic vinaigrette (give the bottle a good shake) or straight up italian dressing. 


Commercial producers, if you are getting a "creamy" and stable vinaigrette, use stabilizers and other chemicals to create and hold the emulsion. 


There are several things which might help you. The first thing I would look at is your technique. Are you slowly pouring in the oil into the blender, or just kind of dumping it all in there and letting the motor run? Slowly adding the oil, especially at first, actually begins the emulsification process. Without first creating the emulsion, you can blend all day and not really create any type of semi-permanent or stable emulsion. It will pretty much break right after the blender is shut off. 


You could try using some dijon in your recipe. This, other than having proper technique, is probably the number one thing that would help. Besides adding a nice touch of acidity and heat, emulsifiers in the dijon will help hold the emulsion more stable and it will separate much more slowly. I've had vinaigrettes hold for up to a week with just dijon.


Adding egg yolks is an option, and will probably work (assuming you follow the standard guidelines of slowly adding oil, etc). Just remember the potential dangers of using raw yolks (minimal but worth considering) and it will have a more pronounced thickening effect than mustard. It would also be debatable if what you created would be considered a vinaigrette, but I'll leave that discussion for another time. 


The amount of oil/vinegar/shallot shouldn't really matter in anything other than a flavor standpoint. Your ratio uses a bit less than the "standard" ratio of 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar/flavoring, but the standard ratio is hardly gospel and depends highly on the type of vinegar/citrus you use. Again, another discussion. 


You also might try blending the shallots with the vinegar/citrus, a pinch of salt, and the mustard for a while before drizzling in the oil. This might help the graininess you are experiencing.


One more thing that has just occurred to me. Heat is often the enemy of emulsion, especially emulsions that are going to be chilled and served cold. Are you using the shallots right from the oven, or do you allow them to cool first? Is the blender running for a long time, thus heating up the sauce? Running the blender for a while will get the mixture quite hot, so be careful of that. 

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

I stream oil and I am pretty sure I don't need a stabilizer, what I am wondering is if the shallots are actually breaking down enough or not. For example, a vinaigrette I made at home as an experiment was a success by making an acid base by simmering the roasted shallot in the acid, reconstituting with water, and then emulsifying, not using the shallots themselves.  This lacks body (as well as flavor depth) and I lack the time needed to make this preparation currently at work, for various reasons.


The shallots themselves will not emulsify fully into the vinaigrette, and so I am pretty sure the problem lies in the amount of shallots themselves.  Less than this makes it a lot easier to lose the subtlety of the flavor however, and the salad it dresses is very simple, hence the desire for a boldly tasting vinaigrette to round it out.  Simmering them in oil similarly to what some restaurants do to make garlic oil might do the trick, but again I am left with unreasonable amounts of preparations to deal with and time is not on my side. (Shallots, vinegar/acid, and oil are all very much cooled when they hit the blender, and the blender has never heated any vinaigrette I have made in the past.  The vinaigrettes in question were not hot either coming out)


So basically I want several whole roasted shallots to be blended into the vinaigrette, but the shallots themselves don't fully break down and so leave a grainy texture and look to the vinaigrette in a short time.  The oil seepage was fixed with a small amount of pure lecithin at work and egg yolk at home, but the graininess (scumminess?) still remains.  Should I just find the time to make a large batch of shallot oil and omit the whole shallot, or is there something I can still do, since I really want the roasted flavor and not the "simmered in oil" flavor?



post #4 of 8

My only response to that would to make a smooth puree with the shallots first, then incorporate that into your vinaigrette. Making shallot confit is not really hard--the method I use is to slice shallots thinly on a benriner, then cover with oil and slow poach until very tender but no color. 


You could take these shallots and some of the oil and make a paste. Alternatively, you could roast the shallots, make a smooth puree, then add that to the vinaigrette. 


Are you roasting your shallots long enough? Raw shallots will have a much harder time smoothing out in a dressing, while fully roasted, soft shallots should puree with ease. 


Anyways, I would try making an oil/roast shallot puree first, then making the vinaigrette (or at least start it) then drizzle/mix in the appropriate amount of shallot puree. 


Other than that I don't know. Maybe you could post your recipe....

post #5 of 8

Mustard?  No mustard?

post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
Remembered to post... I figured out the shallots are actually too raw because I wasn't covering the pan with foil (only a 500 degree convection oven available) The outside definately cooked but the inner layers were basically warmed through. After fully cooking the shallots in the oven and then a good deglazed in the pan they pureed wonderfully and incorporated into the vinaigrette properly. Instead of mustard I used a little honey which is apparently a stabilizer, and it didn't add any substantial extra flavor. If you want a recipe, here it is: 20 shallots, roasted completely through with dry heat drippings from pan after a thrice deglaze with sherry 1/2 cup juice of an orange TB honey S&P enough oil to reach desired consistency (about 2 1/2 cups, later press olive oil) -roast shallots in a large saute pan -remove from pan and place on high heat, deglazing three times with sherry or sweet white wine -puree deglaze liquid and shallots in a robo-coupe or preferably in a vita-prep -add orange juice and honey, let fully incorporate. Should look smooth. -Stream in oil slow as possible, a useful tool is a chinois lined with parchment paper and a hole stabbed at the bottom to only allow oil to stream from the very bottom hole, so you can do other things (time again is not on my side) -season with salt and pepper, and any other spice of your desire Darren
post #7 of 8

OK. I'm curious here. Is that the "given original recipe", or "your recipe"?   Someday made a great recommendation of "confit shallots".  I would roast them in a large uncovered ramekin, just covered in oil and lightly salted. I would most certainly use that oil.  Half an hour at 250*-300* should cook them up nicely.  Kuan's mustard suggestion fits in really well too I think. 

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.


"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 

Its my recipe, most recipes I see ask for only a few shallots, usually "confited" as you indicated.  However, to my palate their is a huge difference between simmering them in oil, oil/butter, and a nearly dry roasting.  For this occasion (frisee and lardons with fried shallot rings and market fruits/berries) I wanted the dry roasted flavor to offset the fried shallot, sauteed lardons, and raw fruit/greens.  I believe I mentioned my problem was the time I was trying to get the shallots out of the oven, and I fixed it by covering the pan with cling wrap, then two layers of foil, at the bottom front of the oven for about 10 minutes, then uncovered for about two minutes in a 500 degree F convection oven. 



I only have one oven available at work since we mainly do pizzas and salads, and it cannot ever be lowered in temperature, so my original problem was to my knowledge the raw inner shallots and a lack of a stabilizer.  I have used mustard before, but the flavor can easily overpower the subtlety of the roasted shallot (either housemade or storebought dijon did this with a teaspoon) and the honey proved to be a flavor enhancer as well as an effective enough stabilizer for reasons I still need to research.  I suppose whole mustard seed might have done the trick as well.


The vinaigrette didn't hold a full week as Someday indicated mustard could achieve, but overall it was a success after the shallots were fully cooked, and the deglazed juices were pureed, cooled, and then emulsified.  Thanks all for suggestions, and the constant talk of "confited" shallots is going to end up a caramelized shallot jam for a pizza special tommorow night, being Friday and we just got some farmer's market shallots and garlic (not to mention Hungarian paprika I almost had to beg for).




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