It’s no secret that I love garlic. The problem is my husband dislikes it. Intensely. A while ago I decided to have a deep and meaningful discussion with him about this garlic aversion. I have spent years sneaking garlic into my cooking, the flip side being he has probably spent an equivalent amount of time pretending he hasn’t noticed. Take a good look at the recipes in this blog, if it’s a savoury dish then its a sure bet there is garlic lurking somewhere in the ingredient list. I could never understand why he could happily eat a garlic laden at an Italian restaurant but bring that same dish to the table at home and let the complaining begin. It appears the smell of cooking garlic makes him feel physically ill. I can empathise with him to some extent as the acrid smell of burnt garlic makes me nauseous. But wait. Is he implying I burn my garlic? Talk about waving a red rag to bull.
I believe every problem has a solution. If you look hard enough. My solution to this particular dilemma? Two words. Confit garlic. Sounds fancy but it couldn’t be easier. Its simply garlic simmered in olive oil at a very low temperature for a very long time. The long slow cooking process transforms the cloves into soft, subtle, sweet, nuggets of deliciousness. More importantly gentle poaching means there is almost no chance of burning the garlic and no acrid smell!
I love to mash warm confit garlic cloves with sea salt and a few drops of their poaching oil, then spread the mixture on lightly toasted sour dough bread. Pure ambrosia. Top with some pan-fried mushrooms and fresh goats curd with a drizzle of the oil and it transforms into a divine bruschetta. Confit garlic adds a delicious complexity of flavour to almost any recipe: dips and sauces, soups and casseroles, pastas and pizzas. If it calls for garlic try substituting the confit version. And promise me you won’t even dream of wasting the oil. Use it in salad dressings and marinades, drizzle it on veggies, or just dip some bread in it. Its delicious on its own.
Last night I made a simple Pizza Margherita for dinner. Fresh cherry tomatoes on a bed of mashed confit garlic topped with a little basil and mozzarella with a drizzle of the oil. I may have purchased the pizza base but the result was sublime.
Confit Garlic recipe is as easy as it gets. One hour, one pot, garlic, olive oil and aromatics is all it takes For those of you that live in Sydney, Norton Street Grocer even sells packets of freshly peeled garlic. So really there’s no excuse. And yes, before you ask, I paid a visit to Norton St Grocer yesterday – for the garlic and a prepared pizza base.
Confit Garlic with Herbs, Chilli and Peppercorns
2 cups peeled garlic cloves (about 6 whole heads of garlic)
4 sprigs thyme
2 small bay leaves
2 fresh chillies
2 cups pure olive oil
COMBINE all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan and simmer over low heat until the garlic is tender but not coloured, about an hour. I like to place a simmer mat or diffuser under the pan.
COOL. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic, herbs and chillies into clean, sterilised jars (instructions for sterilising jars follows). Pour the cooking oil on top, seal and refrigerate for up to a month.
To prevent contamination and lengthen the shelf life of homemade preserves it is essential that jars are sterilised. Here’s how its done.
PREHEAT oven to 110°C. Wash jars and lids in hot, soapy water. Rinse well. Place in a deep saucepan. Cover with cold water.
BRING water to the boil over high heat. Cover pan. Reduce heat to medium and boil gently for 10 minutes.
LINE a baking tray with a clean tea towel. Using metal tongs, remove jars and lids from boiling water and place upside down on tray. Place in oven and heat for 15 minutes.
REMOVE from oven and allow to cool. Jars are ready to be filled.