I think one of the most under-utilized techniques I use is roasting garlic. I feel like I should preface that statement with the fact that I love garlic. I would put garlic in my cereal…if I ate cereal. But seriously, I love it in its’ many different forms. And while there are more gourmet-type garlics out there, I’m really only concerned with plain ole white garlic that you find in the standard grocer’s produce section.
Garlic is pretty amazing stuff. And to the regular home-cook, it might be hard to classify garlic. Is it a fruit? A vegetable? A root? Well, I’m no botanist, but I do know that garlic is not a fruit. Nor is it a root, like a potato. It is in fact a vegetable, but it really doesn’t act like one. Garlic has an identity crisis, but instead of therapy, we need to embrace this fact, and just enjoy the garlicky goodness.
I buy only two of the few garlic options at the store: raw and granulated. I do not mess with the pre-minced garlic packed in juice, nor do I bother with the garlic that the cloves are left intact and floating in a mystery juice. I find that both raw garlic and granulated garlic (or garlic powder) have their own separate uses. There aren’t too many applications where using one is more imperative than the other, but I do have my own set of “rules.” Mainly, if I’m putting in at least a minor amount of effort in what I am cooking, I will use the real stuff. If I am making something simple, or reheating something that needs more garlic, I will simply use the powder. Case in point: If I am making homemade spaghetti sauce, I will use real garlic in the sauce. If I am reheating left-over pizza, I will use garlic powder to add an additional punch to my pizza.
However great the above two types of garlic are, my favorite use for garlic hands down is roasted. Simply put, garlic that has been roasted is magical. Whereas raw garlic is intense and pungent, roasted garlic is sweet and tender. So sweet and tender that roasted garlic is served in some restaurants as an appetizer with nothing more than some sour cream. Truth be told, whenever I make roasted garlic, I always end up eating a few cloves on the side. One time, I made this roasted garlic butter, and to call it “divine” would be an insult. It was like instant garlic bread, and the garlic is subtle but prevalent, and so mouth-watering. So it would not make any sense right now for me not to share with you at least how to properly roast garlic, so let’s do it.
Things you’ll need:
Heads of Garlic
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Obviously, you’ll want to get your garlic ready first. You’ll want to roast more garlic than you think you might need. Because it mellows out so much, you’ll end up using a lot more to achieve a prominent flavor.
- Pre-heat your oven to 350º. You could go as high as 375º, but I wouldn’t go any higher than that.
- While it’s heating, prep your garlic. Remove as much of the outer paper as you can without ripping any of the cloves out. Once this has been achieved, you’ll want to chop off the top bit of the garlic, exposing the interiors of the individual cloves. Yes, you’ll lose some garlic in the process, which is another reason I told you to make more than you think you need.
- After the heads have been prepped, make each head its’ own aluminum foil pouch where it will sit in the center of this pouch and have minimal contact with the aluminum. It may take you a little bit to perfect the folds/crimping, and it’s difficult to explain perfectly how to do it. Just play around with it, it will be fine.
- So after each head is resting comfortably in their pouch, before sealing it up nice and neat, drizzle some of that olive oil on top of each head, and then salt with the Kosher; I’d say about a heavy pinch per garlic. As a side note, if you do not have extra virgin olive oil, you can use plain olive oil. I would not recommend straying too far from that equation.
- By the time all your pouches are made and sealed, your oven should be ready to go. Depending on your pouches, it might be easier to put them on a cookie sheet first, and then into the oven. Roast for about 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, take one pouch out and open it. Examine the garlic. It should have a delectable smell, and should have a golden brown color to it. If you see lots of dark brown or blackness, you may have ruined the batch, but 45 minutes is generally a low-ball figure for me, so that’s why we check it. If you think it needs more time, give it more time, but ultimately, you are looking for something like this:
When the heads are cool enough to handle, grab from the bottom, position it upside-down over an empty bowl, and squeeze the cache into it. Inspect the payload for miscellaneous bits of paper and other inedibles, and then repeat with the other heads.
There. You have now perfectly roasted garlic. What should you do with it? How dare you ask such an absurd hypothetical question! Stick a fork in it and consume! Dump it into some mashed potatoes! Use it as a pizza topping! The possibilities are literally endless.Love your life, stay positive, and play with your food :)