Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Kitchen Project: Roasted Garlic

For my second (whoo-hoo!) Kitchen Project installment, where I share some culinary basics, I thought I'd cover (brace yourself) roasting garlic. I know, I know! It was the ingredient du jour about 10 years ago, and these days, it has fallen off of our collective radars. But not here! Here, I am going to (hopefully) remind you of how nutty and rich an ingredient, slow cooked cloves of garlic really are. And just because I'm cheeky, this recipe is actually for oil poached garlic, but the outcome is the same, flavor wise, as roasting.

Now, some people have gone so far as buying a fancy garlic roaster, but that just leaves you with a messy head of garlic, and yet another gadget cluttering your kitchen. Not here though. Here its all about (admittedly time consuming, but still fab) simplicity.

As with my last foray into this idea of sharing the little concepts, this is not something that you can whip out in a flash. It's a process that will take patience and time, but in the end you will be rewarded indeed. It is the perfect thing to do while you are making roasted peppers, carmelizing onions or just have an urge to spend some time by the stove.

First off, pick up a few bulbs of garlic. Did you know there are (at last unofficial count) 600 different varieties? It's crazy man. But no matter what type you choose, you should look for compact bulbs with dry paper exteriors and plump cloves.

Once you've got that settled, its time to peel. Go ahead and break the bulb apart by turning it root side up on your counter and pushing down on the root with the palm of your hand. Presto. Individual cloves. Now peel. You can use a garlic peeler (I kinda dig um) or you can just continue smashing down on each clove with either the broad side of a knife or your palm. Of course, you can also buy pre-peeled, but those tend to have less flavor. When they are peeled (I tend to do about 4 bulbs at a time. The time is well worth it) slice the tiny root end off.

Add the cloves to an oven proof pan, dish, ramekin, whatever, that will just hold them. Pour your cheaper olive oil over to cover, then cover with foil and bake in the oven at 375F for about 35-45 minutes. (Oh, and in case it bubbles over, put the pan on top of a baking sheet or some foil) They are done when a knife goes through a clove with ease. Remove from the oven and let cool. (Hot oil is a nasty burn, so be careful, ya?)

Puree the cooled garlic with just a little of the oil. Reserve the rest for another use. Bonus, two for one!

Store the garlic in the refrigerator covered with a thin layer of oil for up to six days. Delicious.

It is a perfect spread on its own, as an addition to hummus, as a thickener for soup, mixed with butter and smeared under the skin of a (to be) roasted chicken or in (tomorrows exciting recipe) Roasted Garlic and Leek Savory Bread Pudding.

Try it, and enjoy!


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Garlic has been utilized as both food and medicine for more than 5000 years. Curing garlic is the process by which the outer leaf sheaths and neck tissues of the bulb are dried. Under favorable climatic conditions in California, the garlic is usually cured in the field.

If you have trouble peeling garlic cloves, try soaking them in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes first.



I like the added depth of flavor you get from roasted garlic. I make a sauce for sea bass and rellenos that contains not only roasted garlic but roasted onion, tomato and chile. You wouldn't get the same burst of flavor without the added step of that deep heat.
This is really helpful, Rachael. I don't care when foods are popular. I just love garlic!
Thanks Shauna, I hope you will make some and write about it, I do so love your blog.

And Champurrado, my peach, my sweetie, that sounds AWESOME. But please, please PLEASE tell me by "Sea Bass" you mean black sea bass, and NOT Chilean Sea Bass, which is overfished. You do mean Black Cod, right? Of course you do...LOL

If I can do one thing with this blog, it would be to raise awareness about making socially concious (Fair Trade!) food choices.
I agree fully with Shauna! I wanted to ask you, if I do it with fresh garlic, do you think the taste will be too delicate?
Ilva, I'm not exactly sure what you are asking...can you roast fresh garlic? You mean, right from the ground and not what you buy at the market? I dont see why just may be harder to peel...
Rachael--Thanks for the garlic-roasting primer! I was interested to learn recently that garlic is stronger when it's raw and when it's in small pieces, so if you want a milder garlic flavor, you need to cook it in some way and either leave it whole or cut it in large pieces. The same is true for clove size--large ones are milder--or at least that's what I read!
Also a great topping for pizza with fontina cheese.

I never peel garlic before roasting. The cloves pop right out of their skins if you just toss the whole head in the oven wrapped in foil.
MZN - I agree, it is delicious on pizza. As for the roasting in foil method...I dont use that because I find I lose a lot of the melted garlic and in my method I end up with infused oil too...

And Lisa - Yes, there is some chemistry involved in the whole more-you-mince-the-stronger-it-gets business, and its true. The finer the chop, the stonger the flavor for sure. As for bulb size being of importance, Im not sure, I would imagine it depends on the variety...and roasting it takes a lot of the harsheness away, which I love...

Stripers, blackies, non-chilean sea bass.
Don't worry, I'm with you on this one.
Champurrado - Thanks. Everyone doing their part makes me smile.
Oh, such a staple in our household. After roasting garlic this way, you'll never want to go back to the foil method (or at least I didn't). I find that this almost confit-style of cooking gives a lusciousness to the cloves which is amazing. And as you said, the oil is a lovely bonus! I also use these as a base for pastes to rub on rack of lamb, pork loin and the like.
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