Even in the world's fanciest restaurants, life in the kitchen isn't all caviar and truffles. The highest-end chefs still have to weigh budgetary concerns against their own ambitions and imaginations. Here, chefs reveal the inexpensive, everyday ingredients that they love.
“It doesn’t get any better than onions,” says Austin chef and butcher Jesse Griffiths. “There are so many different varieties depending on the time of year: green, spring, bulb, keeping onions. Each is different. You can cook them forever, serve them raw, fry, grill, smoke or bake them, and they’re relatively cheap.”
“Shallots aren’t as pungent as garlic, and they don’t make you cry like onions do,” says Kelly Liken of Restaurant Kelly Liken in Vail, Colorado. “Their gentler flavor takes dishes to another level, even simple ones like vinaigrettes, sauces, soups. I prefer shallots to garlic at home. A roasted shallot is like candy. They dress up side dishes like brussels sprouts or potatoes. Pickled shallots, tossed with a peppery green like watercress or arugula, can spice up braised lamb or short ribs. You can pickle shallots so many ways—in citrus juice, red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar.”