There I stood in my kitchen, once again gazing at a naked chicken. How can I transform a pale, dead bird into a savory main course? Casting my mind rapidly over the ingredients on hand, I remember my jar of roasted garlic. I’m saved!
Reaching for the jar in my fridge, I combine two tablespoons of roasted garlic and one tablespoon of dried rosemary in a blender. A few quick pulses and – voila – I’m ready to tackle that chicken.
I gently massage the garlic-rosemary paste all over the bird. It looks better already. Two hours and 375 degrees later, I have a mouth-watering golden chicken, its aroma wafting throughout the house.
Although I used the equivalent of four or five garlic cloves on the chicken, the flavor was mild. Roasting garlic alters it chemically, toning down the sharp flavor that puts some people off. Its smoother flavor makes it a perfect alternative to minced garlic, on chicken or any other dish.
You can easily make roasted garlic. Buy at least four whole heads of garlic to make the effort worthwhile. This may seem like a lot, but the milder flavor means that you can use more in foods without overwhelming your taste buds.
Making Roasted Garlic at Home
To roast garlic, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Rub off any loose outer skins. Don’t separate the cloves from the head. Holding the garlic head on its side, take a sharp knife and slice off the tips of each clove, removing no more than a fourth. Discard any discolored or shriveled cloves.
Baste each garlic head with olive oil or vegetable oil to keep them from drying out during roasting. Cluster them together on aluminum foil. Wrap the garlic tightly, sealing the ends. Place the foil package in your oven and bake for one hour.
Remove the package from the oven and let stand for about 20 minutes until the garlic heads can be easily handled. Unwrap the foil package.
Have ready a clean glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Grasp the base of each garlic head and squeeze while holding it upside down over the glass jar. The roasted garlic pulp should come out quite easily and be about the consistency of soft butter. Discard any that is discolored or burned.
When you’re done, mash down the pulp. Add more oil to the jar until it just covers the top of the garlic to keep it from drying out. Store it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Home-cooked garlic will develop botulism if it’s kept too long. To be safe, throw out any remaining roasted garlic after two weeks to be safe.
Using Roasted Garlic in Your Kitchen
Roasted garlic has many uses. Toss a cup of your favorite frozen vegetables with a teaspoon of roasted garlic and cook as usual. Mix equal parts of roasted garlic, butter, and Parmesan cheese for a delicious garlic bread spread. Add one or two tablespoons of roasted garlic and a teaspoon of paprika or chili powder to two pounds of Russett potatoes sliced in wedges. Bake in a shallow dish at 400 degrees F for 30-40 minutes.
Once you get accustomed to using roasted garlic, I’ll bet you’ll want to branch out and be creative. What’s more, you’ll never be dismayed at the sight of a naked chicken again!