I love my husband for many reasons, but one of my favorite things about him is his absolute gusto when it comes to eating the foods he loves. Many years ago, early in our relationship, Chris and I went on a weekend jaunt with my sister, Heather, and brother-in-law, Mike. We ate at a delicious Italian restaurant that served, with its homemade ciabatta, a whole head of roasted garlic. Now, Chris LOVES roasted garlic and proceeded to pretty much eat the entire head himself. And the remainder of the trip, he literally permeated garlic from his pores (so much so that we had to open the car windows when driving home). Now, that is love.
On many pizzas in our house, there is no tomato sauce. Instead, I make a garlic paste that gets smeared on the crust before the cheese and toppings are applied. Over the years, I have been frustrated by inconsistent roasting of garlic; I use the same method (lop the head off, place on heavy-duty foil, pour some olive oil on top, a sprinkle of kosher salt and a wrap it up), same temperature (350-degrees), for the same amount of time (2 hours) and for some heads of garlic, they would be over-roasted, with super caramelized, hard cloves encased in their papery shells or the total opposite — under-roasted and still super "garlicky," with none of the inherent sweetness of perfectly roasted garlic. Not sure why — maybe some were older or younger, moister or drier … I’m still trying to figure it out.
Well, through trial and error (and many ruined heads of garlic), I have a pretty fool-proof recipe. It’s a little unorthodox, but it works. Here’s how:
Take one large head of garlic and separate the cloves, while still retaining their individual paper wrappings. Pack the cloves in a small, oven-proof baking dish (a ramekin, etc.) and add 1 tablespoon of water and one tablespoon of olive oil, a sprinkle of kosher salt and wrap everything up in heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours.
The combination of the steamy water and oil softens the garlic slowly and makes peeling the cloves afterwards a dream! They come out soft, roasted and creamy. The remaining garlic infused oil-water is added to the cloves that are then mashed with a fork and seasoned with additional olive oil (to the consistency you want), salt and pepper.
Try it, you’ll like it. And it’s easy.
Happy eating, -s.