Life without garlic? I would rather never have to contemplate such a thing. The tiny cloves of the mythical Allium sativum plant are pungent, intensely aromatic, and impressively flavorful — an irreplaceable and unique ingredient.
I always marvel at what one little clove of garlic can do. Whether sautéed, roasted, or used raw, its presence transforms any dish in the most dramatic, delicious way.
But have you ever tried making garlic confit? If you haven’t, then you’re in for a wonderful treat. The term confit is used to describe anything that has been cooked slowly into a rich, succulent texture. To confit garlic, the cloves are very gently poached in oil, transforming them into the most delicate, sweet, and tender morsels. A dream!
The confit cloves can be used to flavor soups, sauces, pastas, vinaigrettes, marinades, or mashed potatoes. For a quick but sublime nibble, spread them on a crusty slice of bread. Use the oil in salad dressings and marinades, drizzle it on veggies, or dip some bread in it.
Fill a large bowl with cold water and several ice cubes. Set aside. Bring 2 quarts water to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Place the unpeeled garlic cloves in a sieve and dip them in the hot water for 20 seconds.
Remove from the boiling water and dip the sieve in the ice water bath. As soon as the cloves are cooled, place on a cutting board. Cut off the root ends and skin the garlic (the skins should slip right off). Pat dry with a clean kitchen towel.
Place the garlic in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the oil. (The oil should cover the cloves by 1-inch. You may need a bit more or less oil, depending on the size of the pan you use.) Place the pan over medium heat.
As soon as small bubbles appear, reduce heat to very low (or the lowest setting on the stove: The oil should never reach 180 degrees and only small bubbles should form in the pan). As the oil heats up, bits of skin might float to the surface; skim them off with a mesh spatula.
Gently cook the garlic for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it is very tender and the cloves look very pale golden. Remove from heat and set aside, allowing the cloves to cool in the oil. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.