Garlic confit is to raw garlic as preserved lemon is to lemon zest. While raw garlic and lemon zest are strong and easily identifiable flavors, garlic confit and preserved lemon are subtle and delicate, with elusive yet irresistible flavors for which, in my opinion, there are no substitutes.
Even compared to roasted garlic, which I love whether it’s enhancing a recipe or simply slathered on a piece of toasted baguette, garlic confit is light and understated. It can add just the right touch to a range of dishes, from poultry and shellfish to soups and salad dressings, without overpowering delicate ingredients.
Like preserved lemon, garlic confit is a staple in my kitchen. I always have some on hand for that special flavor tweak. Preparing it sous vide is a snap, so I do a pretty large quantity, but you can easily cut this recipe in half.
Important Food Safety Note: For food safety, the FDA advises against preserving low-acid foods such as garlic in oil unless you process the food at a high temperature. The bacteria that cause botulism are killed by high heat, but they can form heat-resistant spores. Thus, you should quick-chill the jars for 30 minutes in an ice water bath immediately after removing them from the water oven, then promptly refrigerate. The low temperatures in the refrigerator (below 39°F) will prevent the spores from germinating. You can keep unopened jars in the refrigerator for up to one month. To be safe, use the entire jar when you open it or discard any unused contents.
For more detailed information on food safety, along with recipes and lots of good information, read Douglas Baldwin’s “A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking.”
Makes 2 cups
Preheat the water bath to 185ºF (85°C).
- Divide the peeled cloves equally into two large, heavy-duty, double-zipper bags. Add 2 cups of canola oil to each of the bags and seal them with the water displacement method.
- Cook the garlic cloves for 90 minutes, or until they are very soft but still hold their shape. You can test doneness by carefully removing a bag from the water oven and lightly pressing the back of a spoon or fork against one of the cloves to make sure that it is completely tender.
- Remove the bags from the water oven and immediately place in an ice water bath. Chill for at least 30 minutes, then transfer the garlic and oil to lidded jars. Make sure the garlic is completely covered by the oil, adding a little fresh oil if necessary. Refrigerate for up to a month. To be safe, use the entire jar when you open it or discard any unused contents.