The recipe for roast lamb in How to Roast a Lamb is perfectly delicious — as I described in an earlier blog. Given the book title, you would think the author, Michael Psilakis, would consider the lamb the most important recipe in his striking book. But it is one of the ingredients for that lamb that he emphasizes is the mother lode of his book: garlic confit.
If I say “confit” you might reply “duck.” A meat confit is made by cooking meat in its own fat and then preserving it in that fat. But confits come in many forms, for multiple purposes. Other confits can be used as garnish and are made by cooking vegetables, and even fruits, in a seasoned liquid. This garlic confit is an example of this other confit type.
Garlic confit can be used directly, as in the recipe for the roast lamb that calls for 15 cloves of garlic confit. Or you can use this confit as a puree: simply take a large spoonful of the confit out of the jar, allow the oil to drain away, and then chop the cloves. But, be sure to save that drained oil and return it to the jar. The puree can be substituted for butter in any cooking process, for example, to finish and emulsify pan sauces.
The garlic confit are soft and subtle. Any recipe that calls for garlic cloves will become more sophisticated by using confit cloves. And, very importantly, this recipe doubles down. The confit oil is ideal for vinaigrettes or just to drizzle over a finished dish.
The instructions below emphasize following sanitary procedures when storing and using the confit. That’s important: contamination can occur too easily and can be rough on your tummy. Just follow the guidelines below, and you will have an important, versatile addition to your kitchen.
Oh, yes, this recipe calls for a lot of peeled garlic cloves. Look in the produce section of your market for large — a pint to a quart size — jars of peeled garlic cloves. The price can be excellent and you’ll be spared the labor of peeling all those cloves.
Finally, here’s the link to that roast lamb recipe:
Yield: 2 cups
3 cups garlic cloves, peeled
1 fresh bay leaf or 2 dried leaves
8 to 10 sprigs fresh thyme
Kosher salt and whole black peppercorns
About 2 cups, as needed, blended oil: 50% canola, 50% extra-virgin olive oil
Put the garlic cloves in a heavy, covered braising pan or Dutch oven. Add the bay leaf and thyme, a scant tablespoon kosher salt, and 15 to 20 peppercorns. Barely cover with the oil.
Cover the pan and braise — that’s why you barely covered with oil — in a 300° F oven until the cloves are pale golden and very tender, about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
Transfer the garlic and all of the oil to a sterilized jar. Press a square of plastic wrap down directly onto the surface of the oil. Place another square of plastic over the rim of the jar and twist on the lid or secure with a rubber band. With every use, replace the square of the plastic that touches the oil and use a perfectly clean fork or tongs each time to prevent cross-contamination from other surfaces in your kitchen. As long as the cloves are covered with oil, they will last for at least 3 weeks in the refrigerator.
Source: How to Roast a Lamb by Michael Psilakis