This update is a little later than promised due to a wonderful weekend wine tasting around the Willamette valley. So I’ll actually be giving you two recipes today. This one, the Confit Garlic, is not strictly a mustard recipe but it is a great method to use and will show up in later, more mustardy recipes. Instead of going over the method each time, I’ll just share it here and it’ll be easy to review whenever you need it.Roasted garlic is an incredibly diverse ingredient with a whole range of uses from soups and sauces to dressings, veggies and even mustard! There is a whole book’s worth of different methods and recipes out there, some better than others but plenty that work well. I use duck fat for mine because I like the flavor that it gives the garlic but I also really love the garlic infused duck fat that I’m left with. This is a great base for making traditional confit duck legs or just sauteing up some mushrooms or veggies. If you don’t have access to duck fat or would prefer a healthier option, feel free to substitute another oil (olive, canola, peanut). Although the garlic will change flavors a bit depending on which one you choose, a more important thing to consider is what you’ll end up doing with the flavorful oil that is left over long after you’ve used all the roast garlic cloves.
Many other recipes will call for whole heads of garlic, with the top chopped off, to be wrapped in tin foil and roasted whole. This is a fine method and one I use myself from time to time, but doesn’t leave as much flavored fat or oil left over. This is an important ingredient that I love to have around the kitchen. Roast garlic olive oil can lend a great natural sweetness to a salad dressing, or a complexity to simple olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip for fresh bread.
- 2 C Garlic cloves (peeled)
- 5 (about) Sprigs of thyme
- 5 Whole peppercorns
- 3 Bay leaves
- Duck fat or oil to cover
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Separate all the garlic cloves from the head and peel them. Try to keep them whole but feel free to gently crush them with the side of your knife to make the peeling job easier. I used elephant garlic, which makes peeling the cloves a little easier but requires a bit longer to roast. Chose a high sided roasting pan, or small oven safe pot. You will have to move this a few times while it is hot; choosing something large enough to keep hot oil from splashing on your arms will make things much easier. Put the garlic in first, then cover with the duck fat. You can warm it up in the stove enough to liquify it if you’d like, but it’s not really necessary. You should be able to tell if the solid fat will be enough to cover the garlic.Throw the aromatics on top and put the pan in the oven. Since the size of garlic cloves can vary wildly between the real small organic Italian garlic and the gigantic elephant garlic and everything in between, it is impossible to know exactly how long the roasting will take. I would set the timer for 20 minutes and start checking it about every 10 minutes after that. I chose to leave mine uncovered, both to allow the steam to escape as the water cooks out of the garlic, and to make checking on it easier. This increases the cooking time a little but is a worthwhile trade off.
Soon the garlic will be start to brown and you can decide to pull it out and let it cool. This is another point where you have some options. If you just barely let the garlic pick up any color, you’ll have a sharper, more intense, slightly “hot” garlic flavor. Or if you let it roast until it’s a deep golden brown, more of the natural sugars will caramelize making the end product mild and sweet. Be careful though! The flavor of burned garlic is very bitter and undesirable. If you’ve never tasted a clove of roast garlic on it’s own, I would recommend (carefully!) pulling one out each time you check the oven. Let it cool a bit and give it a taste. After a while you’ll get a feel for how dark you’ll want to your garlic to be in the future.
Let the garlic cool on your stove top for an hour or longer to make it easier to handle, then strain out the cloves and toss the aromatics. Although most people never have a problem, botulism has been found growing in flavored oils, so just to be safe I try to store mine in the fridge. Empty pickle or spaghetti sauce jars are great for this. And of course the roast cloves should be stored in the fridge and will keep for about a week in there.
You can use the roast garlic anywhere that you would normally use raw garlic for a sweeter, mellower taste. The cloves are soft enough to spread on a warm baguette for a great snack or try mixing them in to pasta sauce or the base of a soup. Try them on a homemade pizza or folded in to cream cheese for a unique spread. There is an endless number of ways to utilize both the cloves and the flavored oil. As I post a recipes that use confit garlic, I’ll be linking to them here. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from some of you! What do you do with your roast garlic?