I have stumbled upon a caramelizing technique for garlic that seems to work but I do not know why.

I place diced fresh garlic covered in barely hot oil over the burner, add two or three tablespoons of water and let it cook for 45 minutes. The garlic is soft and golden as if you put it in the oven and baked it. I must be steaming it in the oil?

  • Posted by: Louis
  • February 17, 2014


petitbleu February 17, 2014
At the restaurant where I work, we use a lot of what we call "confited" garlic. We use whole heads of garlic, cut off the top 1/3 to expose the cloves, cover them completely with oil, and cook them very slowly (below a simmer--around 200 degrees F). This results in incredibly tender, unctuous garlic. We use it primarily in our grits and salad dressing, but it has so many great uses, including just spreading it on bread.
LeBec F. February 17, 2014
louis, every chef i have ever asked- has roasted their garlic with a different technique. I like Julia Child's way, included in her recipe for Garlic Mashed Potatoes. Peeled garlic in unsalted butter , covered and over very low heat til garlic is very soft/smooshable. i think of it as steaming in fat. I keep frozen a container of pureed mixture to add to potatoes, soups, sauces etc.
Have you seen the Saveur video where you easily peel garlic by palm-banging a garlic head, putting the cloves in a stainless bowl, inverting another stainless bowl on top, grasping the edges together and shaking up and down like crazy for a few minutes? neat if it works, eh?!
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Louis, isn't that a cool trick? We use that technique in professional kitchens but without water. We would add fresh peeled, whole cloves of garlic in a small saucepan and cover them with oil. Then we would proceed as you did to cook for a while on low heat until soft and golden. The excess oil was saved in the refrigerator for many applications and the cloves fished out for green beans with garlic, etc. You sound like someone who would really enjoy reading Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking." It is all about food science and will take you years to get through, probably, as there is so much information. Had you only used water then yes, it would have been a steaming technique. Techniques with oil are considered dry. Here you have a hybrid. Because you used just a touch of oil, that allowed for the caramelization, and the water sounds like it was a buffer to prevent burning during the long cooking time.
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