How to Get the Best Flavor from Your Garlic, Without the Harsh Bite
At Milk Street, we have many tricks for taming garlic’s pungency, including giving minced cloves a short soak in citrus juice or vinegar. But we’re also fans of a technique that more typically is applied to meats: confit.
Confit is an approach borrowed from French kitchens (the term roughly translates as “to preserve”) in which a food is slowly cooked in fat. It classically is used on meats, as in duck confit. When cooked in fat at a relatively low temperature—lower than the boiling point of water—the meat loses little moisture, which also preserves flavor. The results are meltingly tender. They also are time-consuming to prepare.
The same technique works with garlic. And luckily, garlic confit can be made in a matter of minutes—even faster than roasted garlic, in fact, and far less messy, yet just as flavorful.
To do this, we add olive oil to a pan, along with butter (which imparts extra flavor) and any desired seasonings. We keep those seasonings relatively minimal—just a bay leaf and a few sprigs of thyme—so our garlic confit will be as versatile as possible. (But there’s room for experimentation: Rosemary could be added, or even dried chilies.) We heat the mixture until it reaches 185°F, then add sliced garlic cloves, cooking them gently in the oil for about 15 minutes, or until tender. Once the confit cools a bit, it’s ready to use. The result is lusciously soft, spreadable slivers of garlic that provide an instant flavor boost— whether folded into mashed potatoes, sautéed with vegetables or added to soups, stews and cooked grains. We also love to spread the jammy slices of garlic on toasted bread, use it in pan sauces, slather it atop steaks and blend it into compound butters.
Make Compound Butter Your Go-To Move
And as a bonus, you also get a richly infused garlic oil, which we love to drizzle over pastas and roasted or grilled meats. We also like to whisk it into vinaigrettes, dressings and sauces. In all of these examples, the oil adds flavor that is mellower and slightly richer than if you were to make the same sauces and dressings with raw garlic.
Stored in the refrigerator, the confit will last for at least a week.