Ahhhh, garlic. What a fantastic vegetable! The smell of garlic is enough to wake us from a deep slumber, at least in this household. Have you ever been walking along the streets and caught a whiff of fried garlic and imagined an old grandmother busy making sauce that will be simmered for a whole day before being poured on a steaming plate of fresh made pasta?
Ok, here at The Londinium Project, we adore garlic. We use it all the time to flavor our dishes, and especially to marinade meat. And because we never want to run the risk of running out of garlic, we tend to always grab a couple of bulbs whenever we’re out shopping. Which is why we ended up with quite a bit of extra garlic taking up precious space in our refrigerator.
So this morning we decided to make a batch of garlic confit, a tried and tested recipe from Thomas Keller‘s Ad Hoc At Home cookbook.
It’s a simple recipe, but absolutely amazing. Confit is a generic term for food that has been cooked submerged in fat and then stored in the same fat. Keller’s recipe calls for a cup of peeled cloves and around two cups of canola oil. But we tend to adapt depending on the amount of garlic we have, which, today, was more than double.
The first task is to peel the garlic. Now this is a messy job.
A very messy job.
A small gust of wind would have spelled disaster and we’d be picking garlic peel from all over our flat. Even exhaling sharply is dangerous. When we made large batches in the past, we’ve bought already peeled cloves, but this time we wanted to get rid of what we already had. Peeling garlic is an exasperating job. The skin starts sticking to your hands, rendering them useless, and making it necessary to stop what you’re doing for frequent washes. Be prepared for your hands to smell like garlic. But since we love garlic (have we mentioned that?) we don’t mind. And the tiny cloves, which are the most difficult to peel, tend to drop to the bottom of the bowl, which means you get to them when you’re already fed up.
But we persevered because we know the end result will be delicious.
We realized after finishing with the peeling that we didn’t have any canola oil. So instead we used sunflower oil.
The recipe calls for a small saucepan and a diffuser. We don’t have a diffuser, and the cast iron saucepan we normally use to make garlic confit was too small for today’s large batch. So we used another pot. Although one of us is a bit of a stickler for following recipes to the letter, we’ve made this recipe so many times that we don’t mind adapting it.
So, put the garlic in a small pot and cover with oil by about an inch and make sure that no cloves are poking out of the oil. We tend to be generous with the oil because it’s the best part of this recipe. It will be infused with all the delicious garlic flavor and is perfect to marinade meat and cook with. We like sautéing spinach in garlic oil. Or brush fresh bread with it before putting it in the oven for amazing garlic bread. We’re drooling right now.
As Keller explains, the garlic “should cook gently: very small bubbles will come up through the oil, but the bubbles should not break the surface”. The bubbles will move to the surface and stay there. This means that you need to cook it on very low temperature. We set our electric stove on 2. If you’re fortunate enough to have a gas cooktop (sigh!) then adjust the temperature as necessary. Cook for around 40 minutes, stirring every five until the garlic has softened. It took longer today, possibly because some of the cloves were quite big.
You’ll notice that your whole kitchen will start smelling like garlic. And oh, do we love that wonderful aroma! Let the garlic cool in the oil and then put in containers and refrigerate.
Keller says the confit will last for up to a week, but we’ve kept it for much longer when we made large batches, and used it well past that date and never had any issues. But that’s just us.