Garden2Table Recipe Corner: Garlic Confit
Guest Columnist: Mo Mulligan
Today was a wonderful day. This afternoon I worked on my own yard pruning and trimming. Then tonight I get to write an article on cooking garlic confit.
In the summer, you can go out to your garden and dig up garlic if you are growing it. While California, then Oregon and Nevada are the biggest growers of garlic, New Mexico is a great state for growing garlic. Garlic is a member of the allium family. Garlic bubbils (cloves of a garlic) are planted in Sept. and Oct. in Northern NM and in Oct. or Nov. in southern New Mexico. NMSU has a wonderful article on its website on garlic production in NM. The article talks about the variety of garlic to plant, how to plant it, to grow it, and when to harvest garlic.
A fun book to read is: A Garlic Testament: Seasons on a Small New Mexico Farm by Stanley Crawford published in 1992. This book is about growing garlic just outside Dixon NM. It discusses all things garlic.
Garlic is an essential seasoning like salt and pepper. However, it comes in many forms. Garlic tastes pungent and if raw, it is sharp and can be bitter. When you need garlic in a dish that is not cooked many people use garlic powder or garlic salt. Garlic powder is dehydrated garlic and may be considered bitter. Many individuals like garlic powder because you can control the taste of garlic by the amount of powder you put in your recipe. Garlic salt is dehydrated garlic mixed with table salt. This may make some food too salty. If you are cooking with dehydrated garlic, you need to put it in the recipe in the last 20 minutes of cooking or the flavor may fade.
Chopping and dicing cloves increases the allicin which is garlic’s strong flavor. When you mince garlic on a micro-planer you get the strongest garlic flavor. Some people like this flavor in the raw form in salsas or garlic aoli. Garlic has a softer flavor when you roast it as a whole clove. As in the recipe 40 cloves of garlic and a chicken. When you roast whole garlic at 250 degrees for 2 hours per Cooks Illustrated, it creates a soft, nutty and sweet flavored garlic. This can be spread on bread for a wonderful piece of garlic bread. This is not a quick way to make garlic bread. Roasted garlic can be frozen in paste form and then thawed if you want to use the garlic in an uncooked dish. This works but you need time for thawing.
Another form for garlic is garlic confit. If you cook garlic above 140 degrees, the allicin becomes a soft and mellow. It is close in flavor to roasted garlic. It is great for individuals who do not like garlic flavors. It is also wonderful in dishes that are not cooked but you want to add garlic flavor. Garlic confit can be stored in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 weeks. This makes it quite easy to use in recipes. I always have a jar of garlic confit in my refrigerator and make 2 cups at a time. Garlic confit can also be frozen for up to one month. Some individuals are concerned about botulism with garlic confit in oil. This is only a problem if it is kept on a shelf in a pantry. Garlic confit requires refrigeration. If not eaten within 2 weeks, freeze it and thaw when you are ready to have it in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
Garlic confit is a simple dish to make. It has two ingredients: garlic and olive oil or canola oil, that is it. I hate peeling garlic and none of the hacks for this ever work for me. So, I buy already peeled garlic. You can make any amount you want. Trim the tough root end of the garlic and then put the peeled garlic in a pan and completely cover it with oil and cook at a light boil simmer.
As with all foods, the length of time that you cook it will depend on the altitude you live at. I live in north Rio Rancho at 5,000 ft. I cook my confit at a simmer for 30 to 35 mins. When I lived at 6,000 feet, I cooked it for 40 to 45 minutes. If you live at less than 3500 feet, it only takes 20 to 25 minutes. You cook until the garlic is a very pale tan. Test the garlic by taking out one clove and see if it will smash. If it does then it is finished cooking, if not cook another 5 minutes. You do not want it to be dark brown. Let it cool, spoon the garlic cloves into a mason jar and cover the garlic with oil. If you have more oil than jar, save the oil in another jar. These jars of garlic and oil need to be refrigerated. You can use the garlic oil in any dish you use garlic flavoring and need oil.
Garlic confit cloves can be used in many dishes.
Tip 1: If you smash or chop some cloves and mix with butter, it is great spread on garlic bread.
Tip 2: Another use is in a honey garlic sauce that is not cooked. Take ¼ cup of honey, add about 6 cloves of confit garlic than has been finely minced or smashed and paste created. Add 3 tablespoons of melted butter and stir until well mixed and smooth. This sauce can be poured over roasted pork tenderloin, roast chicken breast or roasted chicken thighs. This creates a quick evening meal.
Tip 3: Garlic confit can be in any salad dressing that calls for garlic. I also use it when I want a softer garlic flavor and put it in at the end of the cooking.
Tip 4: Add levels of garlic flavor when making pastas by putting minced garlic in early into the pasta sauce and the garlic confit towards the end of cooking the pasta sauce.
If I am ever worried about garlic burning, I will wait until after the onions are done sauteing and then put the confit garlic in.
Tip 5: Add confit garlic in mashed potatoes. Make the mashed potatoes first then add garlic confit.
Tip 6: Another way to use garlic confit is in barbeque sauce if you are grilling.
Tip 7: It is also wonderful if added to a quick sauté of white fish and add 5 to 6 cloves of confit, a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of butter.
Tip 8: Some people add thyme and rosemary to the garlic confit. I prefer to add these herbs separately to my food.
Tip 9: Since this is New Mexico, some people love to add chili to the garlic confit. This can be done at the end before you refrigerate it.
Tip 10: Another way to eat this is to add smashed garlic confit to mayo and then use this as a spread on a sandwich.
Enjoy your garlic confit.