Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Quest 1.4 Roasting Garlic!

If you don't like garlic, we're breaking up; the relationship ends here because I will never be able to look at you again without feeling that horrible stab in my heart over this betrayal. That being said, get ready to reek because today, we're roasting garlic!

The first thing you need to know about garlic is this: it's not onion. Sure, it's white and has that crunchy outer skin and it grows in the ground, but that's pretty much where the similarity ends. A big mistake people make is that they try to cook garlic just like you would cook an onion. You have a stir-fry to make; what's the first thing you do? You chop up an onion, mince some garlic and toss it in the pan to sauté. What's the result? The result is perfectly sautéed onion and burned, bitter garlic. The most important thing to remember about garlic is that it burns much easier than onion. If you're going to sauté garlic, it only takes a few seconds. Add your garlic to the pan LAST and cook it for only about 30 seconds. It doesn't take long to bring out the natural flavor of garlic. The second thing you need to remember about garlic; don't overdo it. Garlic is strong and can overwhelm a dish very easily. Garlic is meant to enhance the flavor of a dish, not mask it.

You don't need one of those little garlic roasters to roast garlic. They're cute and super-handy but not actually necessary. However, if you're interested in buying one, you can find them fairly cheap in any store or online. Usually, about $10 will buy you a good terra cotta roaster.

Roasting garlic is pretty basic once you get the hang of it. You will also find yourself roasting garlic on a regular basis because you can put it in everything and it stores easily in an airtight container in your refrigerator. You can use it in sauces, stir-frys, breads and you can spread it on a bit of crusty, toasted bread for a snack or appetizer.


1 Head of Garlic
1 tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
salt & pepper
Tin foil & baking sheet
Cutting board
Sharp Knife


CHOOSE your garlic! Remember to put as much thought into choosing your fruits and vegetables as you will put into preparing them. Look for a head of garlic with a firm feel to it and clean, unbroken dry skin. Make sure to avoid any heads that have sprouted (green stemlike growth at the tips) as this is an indication of age and poor storage. Also, make sure the cloves are tightly packed together. If the cloves have begun to pull away from each other, the head is old. Don't buy it!

PEEL your garlic! Using your fingers, gently remove the crunchy outer skin of the garlic head being careful not to separate or pull off the cloves.

CHOP your garlic! Using a sharp knife and a clean, dry cutting board, cut off the bottom 1/4 (the pointy-ish end) of the head so it looks like this:

DRIZZLE your garlic with some Extra Virgin Olive Oil! It doesn't take a lot. Just a little drizzle on the top and use the tip of your finger to gently rub it into the exposed cloves of garlic!

Why did I include this little bit of trivia? Because learning shit is fun. The olive oil was awarded in clay urns elaborately painted with little naked athletes representing the games. The athletes would also smear their naked bodies with olive oil for good luck. That's probably where body-builders and models got the idea for lathering themselves up with baby oil to highlight their physiques. You're welcome...

SPRINKLE your garlic with a dash of salt & pepper. Remember the salt rule? The more salt you add, the faster your food will cook...and the saltier it will taste. Be very conservative with your salt!

WRAP your garlic in a little tin foil teepee! Wrapping up your garlic in foil will prevent your garlic from over-cooking. You want roasted garlic, so the goal is to avoid total caramelization of the garlic's natural sugars. Basically, the foil provides the same function as the clay top of a garlic roaster; to keep moisture in, to prevent the garlic from drying out and to concentrate the heat in a way that it tenderizes and roasts the garlic in a relatively short period of time and as uniformly as possible.

BAKE for 40 minutes or until tender. Your house will start to smell amazing...of course, that's if you like garlic. As we established earlier, if you don't like garlic, we have broken up and I have no idea what the fuck you're still doing here since this whole quest is about garlic so BEAT IT! Get OUT! I can't bear to look at you any longer!

PEEL the roasted garlic from the remaining skin. The soft roasted garlic is actually quite easy to work with but it requires a gentle hand. Moving from clove to clove, carefully peel away the rest of the skin and discard or add to your compost bin. Once peeled, you can mash your garlic to use as a spread, add it to sauces or breads and use as a pizza topping!

In case you're wondering; yes, I took this picture. I just liked it so much, I couldn't bear to scribble all over it.

So now you know how to roast garlic! It's easy, right?! Make sure you properly store the roasted garlic if you plan to use it later. Use an air-tight container and refrigerate. Date it for freshness. The garlic will begin to lose its flavor after about a week.


+ 2 chopping
+ 5 Baking

Join me next time when we'll be doing...something...I haven't quite decided what yet. I'm pretty sure it will involve a kitchen! And follow me on twitter @8BitCook

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