If you like garlic, one of the handiest things you can have in your kitchen is a big jar filled with roasted garlic and olive oil. Kept in the fridge, it virtually never goes bad. You can use it liberally as a condiment to kick any meal up to the next level, even plain old pasta (with a bit of salt added).
Below are steps that I’d recommend to make a whole bunch of roasted garlic at once. As a rough estimate of how much you’ll end up with, 6 heads of garlic result in approximately 1/2 cup of roasted garlic cloves.
- The only special equipment you’ll need is a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid, like this enameled cast iron pot:
- Buy a bunch of garlic heads. Don’t be shy about the amount – go for 10, 15, 20, whatever.
- Pre-heat your oven to 300 degrees.
- Put some olive oil on your hands and rub each head of garlic, just to coat. For 20 heads of garlic, I use less than 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Put all of the heads of garlic in your heavy pot.
- It helps to put all of the heads upright in the pot. Upside down heads tend to leak a large amount of “garlic juice” on the bottom of the pot, which then scorches during baking.
- Put the pot, covered, in the pre-heated oven on the middle rack. Cook for 2.5 - 3 hours. After 2.5 hours, you can check on the garlic by taking a head out and gently sawing off some of the bottom with a bread knife. Take a peek at what’s there.
- If you want the garlic more well-done, you can keep everything in the oven for another half hour and then test another head. If you feel the garlic is just “steaming” itself and not caramelizing, you can take the lid off and give all the garlic heads a half an hour that way. Once you’re happy with the “doneness” (typically after 2.5 - 3 hours, I find), take the pot out of the oven and let the garlic cool uncovered.
- Once cool, to extract the garlic out of a head, saw the bottom of the head off with a bread knife. It should come off easily. Then squeeze the top of the garlic head gently to force all the cloves out through the open bottom at the same time. The garlic shown here was in the oven, covered, for 3 hours.
- Put all of the extracted garlic cloves (or resulting garlic paste) in a jar and add enough olive oil to cover. Kept in the fridge, the garlic and oil should last almost forever. If you’ve just baked some bread, spread the garlic generously on the bread, add a bit more olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and indulge.