Confit Garlic

It is always important to have a few tricks up your sleeve.  Especially in the kitchen.  And confit garlic is up there as one of my most useful secret ingredients.  It elevates even the most mundane of dishes, and I feel somewhat uneasy when there is none on hand.

Just having these soft golden garlic cloves in a jar at the back of the fridge, transforms a sad desk lunch into gourmet heaven when spread on toast topped with a little goats cheese or avocado.  But I use them on almost everything.  They make vegetables sing, pasta come to life, and confit garlic is the hidden ingredient in the best mashed potatoes.  Not to mention in vinaigrette, sauces and dips.

And the bonus?  Once all the garlic cloves have been devoured,  the remaining garlic oil can be drizzled on anything.

garlic confit
garlic confit

In case you don't already have enough inspiration, here are my top 10 tips for using confit garlic:

  1. This confit garlic toastbeats any garlic bread hands down
  2. David Tanis's tricks for creamy dairy free mashed potatoes are even better with confit garlic
  3. Mash 1 confit garlic clove and some of the oil with some vinegar of your choice for a fast vinaigrette
  4. Rub a few cloves under the skin of a chicken before roasting
  5. Stir through a few crushed cloves with steamed green beans or broccolini for added flavour
  6. Make an instant pasta sauce by warming through some halved cherry tomatoes and torn basil with a few confit garlic cloves and top with parmesan.
  7. Add to soups and stews for added depth.
  8. Use in humus or guacamole, or stirred through some labeneh/ricotta/greek yoghurt as a perfect side topped with fresh herbs.
  9. Toss with roasted vegetables (I cannot stop making the roast cauliflower in the Gjelinacookbook with confit garlic)
  10. Simply mashed with butter and spread on sourdough.

I would love to hear your favourite uses for confit garlic, so please drop me a line or leave a comment below and let me know.

A few notes on this recipe:

Scale it up or down accordingly - it really depends on the size of your pan or pot. The garlic must be completely submerged but the oil so use these quantities as a guide.

The minute you google confit garlic, you will see warnings of botulism (which can be caused by spores growing on low acid foods like garlic).  To avoid any concerns, keep the garlic in a sealed jar in the fridge once cooked, and remove the cloves with a clean spoon when you want to use them.  It lasts for a couple of weeks in the fridge.  Just make sure the jar is clean and the cloves are submerged.

Many people peel their garlic cloves.  Please feel free to do so, but I do not.  I smash the heads apart but keep the skins on (usually broken a little by the smashing anyway).

Feel free to play with the flavours.  Add rosemary, a few dried chillies, or some pink peppercorns.

I bake mine in a covered pot in the oven, but you can also slowly cook the garlic on the hob. I prefer the oven as it keeps it at a low, constant temperature ensuring the garlic does not burn.

Confit Garlic

Adapted from Gjelina by Travis Lett

4 heads of garlic, cloves separated and paper rubbed off

2 bay leaves

8-10 thyme sprigs

500ml (2 cups) extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 170C (325F)

Place all the garlic cloves in a 22cm (8 1/2 inch) pot with a tight fitting lid

Add the aromatics and cover with oil.  The garlic cloves need to be completely submerged, so the oil quantity is really a guide.

Bake for 45 -60 minutes until the garlic cloves are lightly golden and soft.

Transfer cloves and oil to a clean jar and refrigerate once cooled.