Lauren Groveman a recipe for delicious living

Garlic Confit with Cracked Pepper and Herbs

(April 27, 2006)

Mary asked Lauren:

Is there a substitute for the butter in the mushroom concentrate. I can't use butter. I'd love to find something interesting to use (to serve) instead of butter with dinner rolls, too. Thanks so much.

Lauren says...

You can use extra-virgin olive oil, instead of butter, in the mushroom soup concentrate. As far as serving a butter substitute with bread, I always keep a fabulous concoction that I call "Garlic Confit" in the fridge. Simple and extremely versatile, this is a mixture of whole, unpeeled garlic cloves that have simmered, over the lowest heat, until the garlic meat is meltingly tender and the oil is robustly flavored with GARLIC! We often use this as a spreadable alternative to butter, with dinner. All you do is gently squeeze a cooked garlic nugget out of its papery skin and then schmear it right onto a slice of fresh crusty bread. And, the garlic-infused olive oil is not only great as a dip for bread, but it also gives a fantastic flavor boost to vegetables, meats and fish, before pan-searing, grilling or roasting. Sometimes, I'll also add to the mix some hot red pepper flakes, a pinch of herbs de Provence and/or cracked black peppercorns. Before using the garlic oil as a baste, I'll also often add some additional minced fresh garlic since, after simmering, the taste of the cooked garlic becomes sweet with less of the kick inherent in raw garlic. That's also when I might also add some minced fresh herbs, like thyme and rosemary.

For best results: To protect the integrity (composition, thus flavor) of the oil, it's important to cook this over very low heat. If your stove is electric, or if you're gas burners don't have a simmer mode, use a flame tamer.

One more thing: Do yourself a favor and, once the garlic cloves start simmering, set a kitchen timer. One time, I left the kitchen and logged onto the computer. When I came back to the kitchen, there were garlic cloves stuck to the ceiling in my kitchen. (I learned, that day, that after too long in the hot oil, the little buggers explode!)

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Garlic Confit with Cracked Pepper and Herbs

garlic confit Yield: about 1 1/2 cups

This is one recipe that I prepare every week (without fail) and use it almost every day. Whole garlic cloves, still in their papery skins, simmer away, at the barest bubble, in extra-virgin olive oil that's laced with dried red pepper flakes, cracked black peppercorns and finished with some crumbled dried Herbs de Provence. I use the oil to brush on meat, fish, poultry and vegetables before (and even after) grilling, roasting or pan-searing. I also serve the garlic-scented oil with the tender nuggets of cooked garlic (still in their skins) in small bowls, at the table. We squeeze out the garlic meat onto slices of crusty bread, and drizzle some of the oil on top and finish it off with a light sprinkle of coarse salt. I hope you love this condiment as much as we do.

    For garlic confit:
  • 2 whole heads garlic (or more), broken into individual cloves but not peeled (remove any excess papery skins)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1/2 rounded teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Pinch dried Herbs de Provence, crumbled (optional)

1) To simmer the garlic cloves: Place them in a 1-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan and add enough extra-virgin olive oil to cover the cloves by 1 inch. Crack open black peppercorns, using either a mortar and pestle or, lay the peppercorns on a sturdy work surface and cover them with a clean kitchen towel. Give the peppercorns several swift whacks, until most are split open. Add the cracked pepper and dried pepper flakes, if using, to the oil and place the pan over very low heat.

After about 5 minutes, you'll see the oil begin to bubble. Let the oil and garlic simmer gently for 10 to 15 minutes, uncovered. Don't let the oil simmer too briskly or the garlic might burst and actually jump out of the pan (I once found a few cloves clinging to my kitchen ceiling!). When the garlic is tender, remove the pan from the stove and add the crumbled Herbs de Provence, if using.

2) To cool and store: Let the garlic confit cool and, after you've used what you need for that day, store the rest in the refrigerator, tightly covered, to use throughout the week. For best flavor and ease of use, bring the oil to room temperature, before using.

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Lauren Groveman recipes have been featured in many national magazines and local newspapers. Her books "The I love to Cook Book: Rediscovering the Joy of Cooking for Family and Friends" and "Lauren Groveman's Kitchen, Nurturing Food for Family and Friends" are available through Amazon.com. Lauren hosts an hour-long, "live" weekly radio show, Food Family & Home "Matters," on 1460 WVOX.

For in depth information on Lauren Groveman as a writer, teacher, TV & radio host, as well as her recipes and cooking tips visit her website at www.laurengroveman.com

Lauren is a Larchmont resident. She is happily married and blessed with three wonderful children.