How to Roast Garlic

Roasting garlic is so simple and such an easy way to add more depth of flavor to cooking that I don’t know why I don’t do it more often. Garlic’s chemistry allows the cook to manipulate it in different ways, getting a different flavor as a result. Alliin and Allicin, the two volitale compounds in garlic that give it its garlic-ness, are only released when the cell walls are damaged by chopping or chewing. It’s the mixture of these two compounds that give garlic its sharp hot flavor and aroma that many people love in things like hummus. However, other people find raw garlic too harsh but still enjoy the flavor. For cooks, this means that roasting garlic, a method where the cloves stay whole, produces a milder garlic flavor and brings out garlic’s natural sweetness.

Roasted garlic is a helpful ingredient to have on hand. You can make a killer garlic bread in a flash by just spreading the garlic onto bread, sprinkling with salt, and toasting for a few minutes. It also adds roasty sweetness to soups and stew that is just not possible to get by simply throwing in chopped garlic. While it does take awhile to make, the prep is very simple and most of the time you can do something else. Also, you can roast as many heads of garlic at one time as you’d like. Once roasted, it will keep for a about a week in the fridge and a few months in the freezer.

Before you start prepping the garlic, preheat you oven to 400°. Then face your garlic. Begin by peeling off all the loose papery layers. You should be able to see the individual cloves.

Next, cut the top off the garlic. Once fell chop should take care of most of the cloves. However, if you take the time to cut the tops off any cloves that were missed, you will be rewarded.

After the tops are cut off (you could save all the little caps to use later, if you’d like), rub the whole head with olive oil. I know it means getting your hands greasy, but it really is most efficient with your hands. I suppose this could be an excellent job for children….However you accomplish this, the oil rubbed garlic should then go on a baking sheet and into the oven for about 30-40 minutes. Alternatively, you could wrap the heads into little nests of aluminum foil. I just don’t like wasting foil if I don’t have to. I’ve found the baking sheet works just fine. When it’s done, the tops of the cloves should be lightly caramelized, but not burned. Let it cool until you can touch it comfortably. When cool, the garlic should be soft enough that you can press gently on the base of the head and pop all the cloves out. This is where you will be rewarded if you took the time to cut the tops off well. The cloves will slide right out if you’ve cut a big enough hole. If not, well, you’ll get a garlic squirt in the eye. Try it, you’ll see what I mean.

At this point, your roasted garlic is ready to use. Try mixing it with butter or cream cheese for a delicious spread. Make garlic bread, toss into soups, or saute with veggies. I can never resist eating at least one clove by itself, especially after smelling it roast for half an hour.


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Posted in Uncategorized 11 years, 10 months ago at 7:28 am.

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