The Case for Peeling Garlic Before You Roast It

The Case for Peeling Garlic Before You Roast It
Photo: Claire Lower

I love the drama of serving a whole head of roasted garlic. It’s a little parcel of flavour that never fails to impress, but extracting the cloves can be a little messy (even with a pickle fork), and (unless you use an air fryer) roasting it to that soft and spreadable stage takes at least 50 minutes.

Fortunately, you can cut that time in half by peeling the garlic before you roast it. You’ll get a slightly different flavour profile, but it will still be sweet, deep, and spreadable — all the things you want roasted garlic to be.

Peeling the cloves lets them cook more quickly and more evenly, so the inside dwellers see as much heat as the outside guys. You can also manipulate the texture and colour of your roasted cloves with the amount of oil you add. More oil gives them a confit-like texture. (In fact, if you fully submerge them in oil, you are making garlic confit.)

These were about half-submerged. (Photo: Claire Lower) These were about half-submerged. (Photo: Claire Lower)

If you only use enough oil to just coat the cloves, they’ll come out kind of candied and chewy, with little crunchy bits on the edges. If you want more crunchy bits, simply smash the garlic real hard. The frayed edges will brown quite nicely.

These were merely tossed with oil. (Photo: Claire Lower) These were merely tossed with oil. (Photo: Claire Lower)

How to Make Easy Roasted Garlic Cloves

Ingredients:

  • As much garlic as you want

  • Olive oil

  • Salt

Peel your garlic, however much you have. If you want to keep the cloves whole, slice a tiny bit of each end off of each clove — the skin will slide off quite easily. If you want little crunchy caramelised bits, smash each clove with the flat of your knife and remove the skins that way.

Add the peeled cloves to an oven-safe dish, then add your olive oil. The more oil you add, the softer and less browned they will be. Add two big pinches of salt for each head of garlic, and give everything a quick stir to distribute it evenly. Roast the garlic in a 350-degree oven until the cloves are soft, fragrant, and have darkened in colour — about half an hour. Smash and spread on a wide variety of foods.

Remove any leftover cloves from the oil before storing in the fridge (if you used a lot of oil), and use any extra oil up that day. (Botulism thrives in an anaerobic environment, which is what oil is, and I’d hate for you to get botulism.)

 

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