kitchen 101: how to roast garlic
If you were around late last year, you know that I did a reader survey to find out what kinds of stuff you guys were looking for from me. I got a ton of great suggestions for where I could improve and even more great ideas for posts and series. One of the ideas I heard from a number of people is to start a kitchen basics series. A lot of you mentioned that you desperately desired to cook more, but felt hindered by the fact that you didn’t have a strong grasp on the fundamentals. Sometimes I’m so deep in this foodie world that I forget that a lot of people don’t know an easy way to dice an onion or the basics of how to make a roux. So that’s where this series comes to the rescue! I’m going to pick out a few of my everyday kitchen tasks and share with you my method. They won’t always be technically perfect (after all, I’m still making my way through culinary school) but they get the job done!
First up, I’m going to show you my method for roasting garlic. If you’ve never roasted a head of garlic, you are seriously missing out. The end result is a mild, garlic-y, sweet, creamy paste that is excellent mixed in with pasta, mashed potatoes and even just spread on a warm slice of crusty bread. One of my favorite meals is a head of roasted garlic, a baguette, and a glass of wine. Yum! Let’s get to roasting.
The key to good roasted garlic is picking a good head for roasting. You want to find a head that is relatively flat on the bottom, so it sits level while roasting. You also want tight, compact cloves.
Bonus points if you can find a head of garlic that is more flat that round. We’re going to lop off the top of the head to expose the cloves, so the flatter the head, the less garlic needs to be chopped off.
Once you’ve got your perfect garlic at home, go ahead and preheat your oven 400°. Then, using a sharp knife, carefully slice off the top 1/2″ of the head. This should expose the flesh of the majority of the garlic cloves.
Dispose of (compost!) the top. Then place the head, cut side up in a well-loved baking dish. For some reason, I always use this obnoxiously old pie pan when I roast garlic. I think my Mama gave me this as a hand-me-down from her collection when I moved into my first apartment. It works. I’ve also heard of people just popping them into the cups of a muffin tin. Sounds like a good plan, too. But I like my well-loved pie pan.
For a burst of extra flavor, I always drizzle a bit of olive oil on top of the garlic and then sprinkle on some salt and pepper. No measuring here. Just a few seconds of drizzle and a pinch or two of salt and pepper.
If you’re feeling particularly fancy, you can shake on some other seasonings. Oregano and basil would be great! You could also spritz it with some lime juice and cumin for a Mexican flair. Yum!
You’re pretty much done. The only thing left to do is to cover the baking dish is aluminum foil and pop ‘er into the oven. I usually bake at 400° for 25-30 minutes or until the garlic is very soft when squeezed.
The garlic will be scalding hot, so I like to let mine rest for 15-20 minutes before handling. Once it’s all cooled down, you can simply squeeze the head and all the gooey, delicious garlic bits come failing right out. Discard the remaining peel.
If you’ve really got your stuff together, you’ll bake a fresh loaf of bread the exact same time as the garlic. You can then slice, spread and revel in the deliciousness you just created.