If they’re reading this, my close friends are probably laughing.
“Oh garlic, of course!!” they’ll say to each other. “After all, the Mouse has vampires on the brain lately.”
They would be right.
I probably shouldn’t admit this publicly, I know. But…I just read the Twilight books.
AND LOVED THEM. (I’m sorry, did I just yell?)
Harris’s books are southern vampire detective novels, and they’re good, delicious fun. Pick one up. You’ll see.
So, suffice it to say that there are a fair amount of corny garlic jokes floating around our house these days.
My great love of garlic
Which brings us in a (very) roundabout way to my great love of garlic. I’ve always loved garlic—even before I started obsessively reading campy vampire fiction like a fifteen year old.
I mean, remember my trip to the garlic farm last year? Proof positive.
Now, I like garlic in pretty much all its forms, but roasted garlic has to be one of the best substances on the planet. And making it is one of those ineffable acts of culinary magic.
I mean, really: Take one of the strongest, stinkiest kitchen critters out there.
Drizzle it with olive oil, wrap it up tight, and toss it in the oven for less than an hour. And…voila! It’s mellow, creamy, nutty—and spreadable.
Magic, right? Pretty darn close, in my book.
You can toss it with pasta, spread it on bread, or (my favorite) make compound butter. That’s what I did with this batch. I’ve included instructions for how to do that at the end of this post.
When I roast garlic, I tend to use extra olive oil, so I wind up with garlic-infused oil. It’s deeply flavorful. I keep it in the fridge, and use it to fry potatoes and eggs. I also like to rub it on chicken before roasting.
Roasted garlic, three ways
So, this post will show you how to make:
- Roasted garlic
- Garlic-infused oil
- Roasted garlic compound butter
The best kind of garlic for roasting
You can use any kind of garlic for roasted garlic. That said, purple stripe garlic is generally acknowledged as the best, sweetest kind of garlic for baking.
Whole heads of garlic
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Off with their heads!
Grab a baking dish large enough to hold all your garlic comfortably. Set it aside.
Take one of the heads of garlic. Whack off maybe a half an inch of the top.
Basically, you want to expose the garlic enough so that it’s easy to get out once it’s roasted. Set the garlic in your baking dish.
Pull out all the tips from the top and toss them in, too.
One word of warning: I always include the tips, because hey, that’s more garlic to love. That said, these pieces are much smaller than the actual heads, so they can burn more easily. Just keep an eye on them when they’re in the oven.
Repeat with the rest of your heads of garlic. I made a ton this time. (Yep, you leave the skins on. Roast ’em right in their wrappers.)
Drizzle the garlic with olive oil
Drizzle the garlic with olive oil. Pour it over the heads, so the oil seeps down between the cloves. If you want to wind up with garlic-infused oil, pour generously.
Toss the heads and pieces to coat in oil.
Cover your pan with aluminum foil. Crimp the edges tightly.
Into the oven!
Pop the pan into your preheated 350-degree oven. Roast for 30-45 minutes. Start checking the garlic after 25 minutes or so (remember: you don’t want those tips to burn).
Your roast garlic is done when it’s lightly browned, and soft throughout.
How do you know for sure? Poke it with a fork.
The garlic should be so soft that you can do this:
(Nom, nom, nom. Mmmm, pardon me for a moment.)
Remove each clove with a sharp paring knife, or squeeze the whole head until the cloves pop out. Up to you. Just remove as much of that golden, buttery goodness as you can. If any of the garlic tips got hard and crunchy, just toss them.
Put the garlic in a bowl and set it aside.
How to Make Roasted Garlic Compound Butter
Cut up a stick of butter (that’s 8 tablespoons) and set it in a bowl on the counter to soften up for about 20 minutes.
How much butter you use depends on how much roasted garlic you made, and how garlicky you want your butter. I used 2 sticks of butter for 5 heads of garlic, which makes a ridiculous (and strongly flavored) amount of compound butter.
(Trust me, I’ll use it.)
When the butter is soft, mash it up with a fork.
Grab your roasted garlic and toss it in the bowl with the butter.
Mash it together with a fork until you have a uniform paste. If it’s kind of soupy, that’s just fine. It’ll firm up in the fridge.
Rip off a piece of waxed paper or parchment paper. Scoop the butter on to it.
And roll it up.
Keep tucking it under to make it firm, just like making a burrito.
Roll it up into a log.
And twist the ends tight.
Set the butter in the fridge for a few hours, until it’s nice and firm. When it’s hard, it’s ready to use! Use it to make garlic bread, stir it into mashed potatoes, garnish a grilled steak with a nice, fat slice. It will keep for a few weeks in the fridge—if it lasts that long.
Strain the Garlic-Infused Oil
You’re not quite done yet. Can’t forget all that delicious, fragrant oil.
Grab your baking pan. It will be full of oil and littered with garlic skins. Set a strainer over a small bowl. Strain the oil.
Push the garlic skins down with a spoon to squeeze any extra oil out of them.
Keep your garlic-infused oil in the fridge for up to 2 weeks (check this out for food safety tips on keeping garlic in oil).
Like all oil, it will solidify when it’s cold. That’s just fine. Just scoop it out by the spoonful when you want to use it. It will liquify again when it hits the heat.