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How to Roast Garlic

Roasted Garlic is a sublime way to enjoy garlic .. roasting this food eliminates the sharp, harsh aspects that fresh garlic has, turning that marvelous garlic flavor into one that is almost sweet, and has a smooth, rich taste that you can enjoy spread directly onto toasted, french bread (the ULTIMATE garlic bread), kneaded into focaccia bread, or made into a pasta sauce.

There are 3 methods for roasting garlic. The one talked about most often is to take an entire head of garlic, remove some of the outer papery garlic skin and then slice a third of the top off in order to expose all the cloves. Place this "de-topped" garlic head in some heavy duty foil. Drizzle olive oil over the cut surfaces and wrap up the head tightly with the foil. You can roast the garlic at most any temperature from 350°F to 425°F, so if you're already using the oven for something, just use whatever temperature you're using. Otherwise, I normally set it for 375°F.

Roasted Garlic Head by Eric Petruno on flickrphoto by Eric Petruno on flickr

Check the garlic periodically ... it's done when the cloves are soft enough to be pierced easily with a fork and have turned golden brown. Make sure they don't get overly browned or the garlic will have developed a bitter taste.

Once done, remove the garlic head from the oven and allow to cool enough so that the head can be easily handled. Then remove each clove by slipping them out of their papery with a paring knife tip, or by removing the papery wrapped clove and squeezing the soft garlic out.

The second method for roasting garlic is the one I use. The above mentioned method never seems to work for me ... I find the smaller cloves on the outside get overly done before the inner cloves get done enough. And if I cut off enough of the top to expose all the garlic cloves, I find I'm wasting A LOT of garlic in what's sliced off.

So my method is to take a fresh, raw garlic head and remove all the garlic cloves individually from their papery wraps. Some folks find that peeling each individual garlic clove is very time consuming, but compared to squeezing each oily clove from a roasted head, removing the stray paper that gets in with it all, I find this method much easier.

Roasted Garlic Cloves by Jacqueline of SweetBeetandGreenBean.netphoto by Jacqueline on flickr

Once you have all the individual cloves peeled, the method is the same as above. Place in some heavy duty foil, drizzle with olive oil, and wrap up tightly. The only difference is that the cloves will roast much quicker than a whole head, and do better at a lower temp. Do it between 350°F and 400°F if you're using the oven for something else.   375°F seems to work best. Start checking the garlic after 10 minutes, and remove from the oven when the cloves are golden brown and soft enough to be pierced with a fork.

The other advantage of this method is that you can remove garlic cloves that are done early (the smaller ones) and allow the larger ones more time to finish roasting.

The third method for roasting garlic is to pan roast it. I've never used this method, but I've seen it referenced fairly frequently in various cooking sources. The first step is to boil the garlic in order to cook it, so I've always wondered whether or not this method develops the rich, intense, deep flavor that the above two methods do.

To prepare garlic via this method, separate the garlic cloves from the head, but do not peel. Place in boiling water, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the cloves are soft. Then, cool in cold water, remove the skins, and place the cloves in a fry pan over medium heat with a little oil and stir constantly until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Pan Roasted Garlic Cloves by Crystl on flickrphoto by Crystl on flickr

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