|How To Roast Garlic|
Garlic is kind of like the bad-boy of the vegetable world. Known for its stink, its pungent bite, its ferocious ability to ward off vampires and demons... and yet despite its bad reputation, Garlic is every foodie's secret crush. The unassuming bulb, so innocent in appearance, has even earned itself the name of "stinking rose".
And yet... what is in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would still stink as sweet!
I grew up in a house where the words "you can never have too much garlic" were said often, and with great sincerity. It isn't true, of course... you can most definitely have too much raw, bitter garlic in one meal. But sweet, warm, roasted garlic, on the other hand? Now that's another story!
It's FAK Friday (Feeding my Appetite for Knowledge), and this week I thought I'd show you how to make one of my all-time favorite things, roasted garlic. We all know garlic can overpower a dish with its pungent, sometimes spicy flavor, but with a quick sit in the oven garlic takes on a whole new quality of rich, sweet, melt-in-your-mouthness. Yes, you heard me. I love to use roasted garlic in homemade pesto, garlic butter, or stirred together with olive oil and brushed onto bread to make croutons, or tossed into pasta. In fact, there's really no wrong way to use it!
How To Roast Garlic
The downside, of course, is the pungent aroma that can hang around well after the garlic itself is gone. When raw garlic is cut, crushed, or chewed, it releases a sulfurous chemical called allicin. Allicin is a big component of garlic's spicy bite, but is also responsible for its anti-fungal properties. When garlic is cooked, the allicin is released, leaving the garlic much sweeter and more mellow in both smell and flavor. Of course, if you plan to rub a bunch of garlic on an open wound in the hopes of avoiding an infection you'd be better off with raw... but since you probably aren't going to do that, let's get to roasting, shall we?
Start with some garlic. Scratch that, start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees F.
Now grab some garlic. Big whole bulbs are great for roasting, and if you can find some nice elephant garlic go for it. Peel away as much of the loose, papery outer skin as you can (it tends to burn), and lop off their heads - err, cut the top end of the bulb off to reveal the cluster of cloves inside.
Grab a piece of foil and set your bulb onto it. Drizzle each bulb with a couple teaspoons of good quality olive oil, and wrap the foil up around the bulb to seal it in a nice tight ball. You can set these on any ol' tray, or in a ceramic baking dish dish, but I'm quite fond of a muffin tin to hold the bundles of foil in place.
Pop these babies in the oven, and let them roast for about 35-40 minutes, or until the garlic is nice and soft, and the sweet wafting aroma has filled your entire house. Be sure to let the packets cool sufficiently before opening them up, because there's a lot of pent up steam just waiting to burn your fingers off. If you must open the foil to check on the garlic, I suggest an oven mitt on one hand and a long fork or other utensil in the other.
Once the garlic is out of the oven and cool enough to handle, go ahead and unwrap those bad boys. The first thing you'll want to do with your roasted garlic is rub it all over like perfume, but trust me when I say it's better off in your food than on your face... and clothes... and everything.
So how should you use your roasted garlic, you ask? Besides the perfume idea, I'm not sure how you shouldn't use it. To remove the soft, golden
Because it's so much mellower than raw garlic, I find that I can double the amount I would otherwise need for most recipes. Some of my favorite uses are in homemade pesto (like this one), or tossed with bread and olive oil to make croutons, (like here), or mixed with herbs into softened butter, or used to dress pasta, or stirred into sauces... you could even remove individual cloves and spread them on toast. When garlic is this good, there is no wrong way to eat it!
What's your favorite way to use garlic? Do tell!