Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Roasted Garlic

If I ever had my own restaurant I would probably call it Allium in honor of my favorite class of plants. My second choice for a name would be The Meeks Family Grubbin' Joint With All The Fixin's. I don't know about you, but I think the first would both do better and be cheaper to put on a business card. Still, The Meeks Family Grubbin' Joint With All The Fixin's has quite a ring to it.


Allium it is.

In case you were asleep in biology class or, like me, went to public school, Allium pertains to the plants in the onion genus...genius. This includes things like onions (shocking), leeks, shallots, chives, and garlic. Garlic is what we are talking about today.

In case you didn't know, the world thinks garlic is awesome and so should you. in 2008 the world produced 15,686,310 tons of it (that is 31,372,620,000 pounds...not even kidding you). That means there is 5.22877 pounds of garlic per person in the world.

Get some.

Garlic, like every other delicious treat in the allium genus, has the potential to impart many flavors depending on what you do to it. This post excludes the fact that there are a multitude of types and two classes of the plant.

One of the greatest things that can be done with garlic is roasting it. By doing this you turn a biting, spicy, powerful bulb into a sweet, buttery, mellow bunch of heaven. It is like taming a wild bronco, only you get to eat it once it is tame. Score one for the garlic roaster, zero for the cowboy.

Roasting garlic also happens to be a kitchen activity that even those beloved of you readers who have difficulty boiling water or making toast can pull off with relative ease. You will also stun your guests with this number.

I never cease to get a kick out of the fact that most people rant about simple food done well, yet these same people are daunted in the kitchen because they feel they must make something akin to Fois Gras Cotton Candy (not kidding, check it out...yes, I am going to be making pancetta and aged cheddar cotton candy as soon as I buy my machine...again, not kidding...thanks for asking). Just cook simple things well and people will always be finding awkward reasons to show up at your house at meal times (you know who you are).

Get in the kitchen.
Make simple food.
Have friends over to eat it with you.
Enjoy it.

- Jeremy Meeks (I know, I am quite the sage, thank you)

Now down to business.

- Take a few heads of garlic. How many? Well, this takes a while so just do a bunch (5 or more) and eat it for a week.

Yes, you will reek.

No, you will not care at all.

- Strip the heads of their papery exteriors.

- Cut the tops of the heads off. Not the root site. How much? Check the picture below.

- Place the head on a small square of tin foil and douse it with some good olive oil. Yes, the good stuff makes a difference. Surprisingly, Costco sells a bottle of some really good extra virgin olive oil. It is not hand picked by albino gypsy children and it wont cost you a second mortgage, but it is great. the above photo has a picture of it in the background. This is not something you fry chicken in (although that would be rad), so don't choke at the 12 bucks you'll spend. It is for finishing applications and times when you are going to get that flavor imparted big time. A second option is butter, but not as good as olive oil. Rendered pancetta fat, a small piece of lardo, or some chicken schmaltz are all good ideas. Shoot, now I am getting hungry.

- Sprinkle with a pinch of kosher or sea salt.

- wrap foil around clove sealing it up.

- Place in some kind of oven proof container. Muffin tins work great for this, but just about anything works.

- Bake these aluminum foil balls of goodness at 400 till the heads feel soft. This could take anywhere from 25 minutes to an hour depending on your garlic.

You now have one of the great wonders of food. Not crazy. Not flashy. But something that ANY chef in the world would be stoked to eat.

Just squeeze the heads and the cloves will come right out.

They will keep for a week in your fridge, but honestly it will be gone quicker than that.

What to do with it?

Here are a few options:

- use like butter on bread.
- stuff olives with them.
- wrap them in bacon and fry. (heaven, I'm in heaven)
- make a pan sauce featuring them for some pasta.
- use as pizza base instead of tomato.

The options are endless. The joy is not.

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