Garlic! What hasn't been said about it? For centuries this little bulb of the onion family has been curing or preventing illnesses. The anciet Egyptian's thought of it as a cure-all and even buried their leaders with strands of garlic. As a matter-of-fact, when they found the remains of little King Tut, there was garlic in his tomb!
So, why is garlic considered one of nature's wonder foods? First of all, it is a known food factor in building and maintaining a healthy immune system. It contains high doses of allicin, which is a powerful antioxident. It reduces cholesterol and has the ability to lower the risks of many types of cancer, albeit hasn't shown promise in either prostate nor breast cancer. Actually, so powerful is the reputation of garlic that during the plague, doors were drapped in strands of garlic to keep the "black death" away.
One of the best ways to prepare garlic for numerous culinary uses is to roast it.
If, per chance, you have never eaten roasted garlic you have been missing one of natures (and the culinary arts) greatest flavors. At Casa de Cuisine we use roasted garlic in many dishes, including our famed Two Cheese Roasted Garlic Pizza.
Though it may seem an easy task to roast a head of garlic, there are a few tricks which will bring out its robust and naturally sweet taste. Rather obviously you will need a fresh head of garlic. You can use either regular garlic or elephant ear garlic (elephant ear garlic being that HUGE head of garlic you see at the market). If you opt for elepehant ear garlic, the taste of the roasted garlic will be slightly less pungent.
When buying your garlic you want to make sure the head is tightly together and there are no blemishes on the outer cloves. You also want to make sure there is no sprouting beginning to happen (quite common for garlic found in markets). A good fresh head of garlic is the difference between great roasted garlic and simply "eh" roasted garlic.
Since there really is no recipe for roasting a head of garlic, I will instead just give the steps:
- Take the head of garlic and slice off the crown (not the root end). Depending on the size of the head, you want to cut it around and inch below the crown.
- Place the garlic on a piece of foil large enough to wrap the whole head. Remember, you want the head of the glaric whole and not separated into cloves.
- Drizzle the cut portion of the garlic head with olive oil. At Casa de Cuisine we use a greek olive oil for this.
- Place the foil wrapped garlic on a pan and place into a 400 degree oven and roast it one hour.
- Remove the garlic from the oven. Undo the foil and remove the roasted head of garlic. Squeeze the garlic from the cloves and you have a wonderful and fresh roasted garlic to use in many dishes or as we do in the kitchen, spread on some crackers or bread for a fresh and healthy snack!
The new cookbook from Chef Larry Edwards is now available from Amazon.com and bookstores worldwide. One of the most anticipated cookbooks of the year, "Edwardian Cooking: 80 Recipes Inspired by Downton Abbey's Elegant Meals."