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Garlic Confit With Cracked Pepper and Herbs

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, fresh basil and crumbled dried Herbs de Provence. If your stove doesn’t have a very low simmer mode, I suggest using a “flame-tamer” to protect the integrity of the oil. You might need to adjust the timing a bit. 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, and remember, any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

For garlic confit:

  • 3 or 4 whole heads garlic, broken into individual cloves but not peeled (remove any excess papery skins)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
  • 2 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 rounded teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (optional)
  • large sprig of fresh basil (with stem attached)
  • Pinch dried Herbs de Provence, crumbled (optional)

1. To simmer the garlic cloves: Place them in a 1-1/2 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 extremely gently for 10 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!) Add the basil sprig and let cook for another 5 minutes (Again, the word “cook” seems too aggressive should only barely move.) Add the Herbs de Provence, if using and remove from the stove.

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

SHOPPING LIST

TO MARKET, TO MARKET FOR GARLIC CONFIT

At-a-Glance Reminder of Ingredients

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)

From the produce section:

  • Whole heads garlic (Buy several, making sure that the heads feel meaty with cloves that are full and plump. Avoid those with dry, puckered papery skins or green spouts, since this indicates old age.)
  • Fresh basil

From the supermarket shelf:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil

From the spice section:

  • Herbs de Provence (optional)
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Whole black peppercorns (optional)

Watch the Video.

Comments (2)

2 Comments »

  1. It seems you use this up weekly, but how long will it keep safely in the refrigerator? Can it be frozen? I have concerns about infusing garlic in oil at home because of the risk of botulism.

    Comment by permafrost — August 22, 2012 @ 12:33 am

  2. Hi–no worries about that if you keep the oil in the fridge. I suggest you make the amount that will support your cooking style. I could make a quart–or a pint–there is no one right amount. This recipe is conceptual so you can do what suits you. Hope this helps. I’m here for you.
    Lauren

    Comment by Lauren — September 11, 2012 @ 9:29 pm

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