The Scamp’s Cooking Corner

This one should actually be called the failed cooking corner. The big huge it looked like cat vomit instead of sauce fail.

I somehow ended up with a bag full of shallots when I did my last grocery order, and for the life of me, I can’t remember if I’ve ever cooked with a shallot. I did what any good researcher would do and took to the internet to try and find a good recipe that would allow me to use some of my shallots.

You’ll never guess what I found…..an entire recipe dedicated to the use of shallots. I picked one that seemed easy: Caramelised shallot pasta. Seemed easy enough, and the shopping list was simple.

Ingredients:

60ml olive oil

8 round shallots, sliced very thinly

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 tsp chilli flakes

25g anchovy fillets (about 6 anchovies), drained but not rinsed

100g finely chopped sundried tomatoes

12 green olives, sliced

500g bucatini (or another type of pasta)

40g Parmesan

Small bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped

Instructions

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium high heat. Add the shallots and thinly sliced garlic, season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots have become totally softened and caramelized with golden-brown fried edges, a solid 15 to 20 minutes.

Add chilli flakes, anchovies, sundried tomatoes and olives. Stir well and cook for a further 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, fill another large pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Add the bucatini and cook according to the package instructions. Save about 2 ladles of pasta water when draining.

Add the cooked pasta to the pan of sauce. Slowly begin to pour in the remaining pasta water and toss to combine with the sauce. Continue adding a little bit of the water at a time to help loosen up the sauce and coat all of the pasta.

Plate the pasta and top with Parmesan and fresh parsley.

I went to the big Tesco near my house and picked up everything that I didn’t already have in my pantry. It has now become a bit of a fun ritual for me: finding the recipes, going to the shop, listening to a podcast as I browse the aisles. This time it was Sweet Bobby (which is a story for another day, because damn, that is one ridiculous story). I came home and washed everything that needed to be washed and prepped everything according to the instructions.

Except I made one crucial mistake when I was ear deep in a crazy 10 year catfish saga: I bought sardines instead of anchovies. Even worse, I didn’t notice I’d made this error until after I added it to everything else. Instead of a sauce, I got cat vomit city.

Cat vomit disguised as part of the caramelised shallot pasta.

Let’s just say, you can’t mistake sardines and anchovies.

Me, learning after making the fatal mistake

The only good part of this was that I hadn’t mixed the pasta in yet, so dinner wasn’t totally wasted. Butter, garlic powder, mixed herbs and the fresh parm saved the day. I sent the photos to the family group chat, had a good laugh and crossed this recipe off the list of the success stories. I guess when I had the idea to try a recipe a week, I thought they would all be a success story. The first couple worked out so well. I got cocky. I started to believe that maybe I wasn’t hopeless at cooking.

There is one thing I can say with confidence though: I still do not know how to cook a shallot.