Cupcake Mary, a knitterly friend, just gave me some of the most beautiful garlic I have ever seen in my life. She grew this hard-necked garlic herself, in her garden.
Clearly, she has skills.
This garlic has heft, it has volume. It has a physical presence in the room.
Each generously-sized bulb is almost bigger than the obnoxious small yappy dog that lives next door and occasionally escapes into our yard through a gap under the fence.
This garlic is also completely and entirely mine, since the British Guy does not eat garlic. At all.
So sad, poor guy... more for me.
Dave the Garlic Guy, my go-to source for all things garlicky, suggests that you store cloves in the freezer until ready to use, and then they are 1. really easy to peel, and 2. never ever going to sprout and send out those small, bitter green shoots.
I've done this with my regular garlic supply, and it works a charm, but these charismatic beauties deserve something special.
I was eyeing The Preservation Kitchen's Garlic Conserva longingly, but don't have a pressure canner (...yet).
There are lots of ways to achieve something similar with just a pot and a stove, so I chose a garlic confit recipe from Food and Wine that had a few extras thrown in for more flavor.
Peeling the cloves was the most complicated part, and as an added bonus the herby, garlicky oil is almost more delicious than the meltingly creamy garlic cloves are after their long, slow warm bath.
I drizzled - ok, sloshed - a large slick of this oil over some leftover cold grilled squash and eggplant, some sliced tomato, and a few torn hunks of buffalo mozzarella, and it was an absolutely divine dinner.
The cloves themselves are smooth and silky, spread like butter, and are great mashed into butter or mayonaise as a flavored spread, or used in any dish that needs a little garlic love.
If you want to keep the vampires away, a mayo made from some of the garlicky oil with a few cloves blended in would do the trick quite nicely.
From Grace Parisi at Food and Wine, more or less as written, except accounting for my giant garlic.
About 300 grams of cloves from 3 extra-large or 6 regular sized heads
2 cups of olive oil
6 sprigs of lemon thyme or regular thyme
2 small dried chiles
1 bay leaf
Peel the cloves, making sure to remove the thin membrane on the outside of the clove.
Put all the ingredients into a small pot, making sure the oil completely covers the garlic cloves.
Bring to a gentle simmer on medium-low heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or until the cloves are soft and a knife slides through with no resistance.
The oil should be very softly bubbling, not boiling, and the cloves should not brown at all.
As my mom says - 'It should be smiling, not laughing...'
Transfer to a clean container and store in the refrigerator. Keeps for up to 4 months.
When you want to use the cloves or the oil, remove from the refrigerator and let it warm up so the oil softens, or warm gently in a pan.