I bet you've seen the words "confit" on a menu and said to yourself, "huh?" And maybe you asked a question about it of your server, or maybe you kept right on reading and didn't give it a second thought, figuring if it was on the menu that's all you needed to know. Or maybe you're already culinarily well versed enough to know what it means.
Regardless, here's the story. Confit is basically a way of preserving something in fat. You may have seen duck confit on menus; that's the one that pops up most typically when it comes to rendering of such a classic technique. In the case of garlic, we use olive oil. Because honestly, why would you use anything else? The process results in a garlicky olive oil and therefore, multiplies its uses. It's even more wonderful when you use local garlic. Please, do this. You will be rewarded even more immensely. (I used an Italian purple garlic).
It's easy to make and it's even easier to fall in love with garlic confit once you see the myriad ways in which it can be used. Drop it into mashed potatoes with some herbs. Spread it on bread, like I did here. Add it to pastas. Scramble it into eggs. Ooh, the list is endless. Think about where and how you like to use garlic, or where a dish might benefit from a sweeter, more mellow garlic experience, and that's where confit can go.
- 1 cup good quality olive oil
- 2-3 heads of garlic, or less, depending on the size, peeled
In a small saucepan, cover the garlic with the olive oil. If you find for some reason that it's not enough to cover the garlic cloves so that none of them poke through the surface, add a little bit more--but not more than an inch or so.
Turn the heat to medium-low and watch the oil until it starts to show a few bubbles. Let the garlic slowly simmer, or poach, stirring every five minutes or so, for about 40-50 minutes and the garlic is soft when poked with the tip of a knife.
Take the pot off the heat and let it cool. Once it's cool you can refrigerate for a week or so, or freeze it for more long term use. One thing to remember, and this is for your own safety: do not store this at room temperature, and make sure you use a clean spoon when you dip into the container.