Felice loves my mason jars. When we teamed up to cook a couple years ago, she stood there marveling at the line-up of homemade condiments, confits, and pickled vegetables, on the top shelf of my fridge.
I learned this trick from the Gjelina cookbook by Travis Lett. Making my own condiments has become one of my favorite cooking pastimes, and anyone who has eaten at my place is knows the benefits. When I cook almost anything, adding pickled onions or jalepenos, my homemade harissa, or garlic or tomato confit makes everything easy and infinitely better. This is a think-ahead activity that pays off, and a good use of spare quarantine time to invest in better dinners.
For starters, I’ll share what I do for garlic confit. (You can find this in the Gjelina book along with many others.) We are big on garlic in our house. It’s a bit of work to make the confit, mostly just peeling a lot of garlic at one time, but I don’t peel garlic at all for the next couple months so it pays off. Besides, the resulting garlic is perfectly mellowed and so versatile, it can go in nearly any recipe. I use cheaper olive oil for this because the confit turns it into a magical flavored oil that’s almost as good as the garlic itself when I want a subtler flavor.
If you don’t have a mason jar, just save one from something store bought. Glass jars from mayonnaise, kimchi, pickles, or whatever you buy that comes in glass, will be perfectly fine. You can scrape the label off or not, just make sure it’s been through the dishwasher on a heat setting to make sure it’s clean. Or buy a flat of mason jars next time you go to the hardware store, if you every go anywhere, which I’m not. They are cheap and endlessly useful for replacing plastic bags or cheap containers (which for sure are toxic).
What you need:
2 Mason Jars or 2 cup glass jars of any shape
8 heads of garlic
3-5 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
2 cups of olive oil
How to make it:
Preheat the oven to 350. Peel all 8 heads of garlic and put them in a glass baking dish. I use a loaf pan. Any small Pyrex dish works. Add olive oil until it covers the garlic by a half inch or more. Sprinkle the thyme and bay leaves over the dish, poking them under the oil. Put the dish in the oven for 45 minutes or until the garlic has turned a nice golden brown. Let cool, remove most of the herbs and store in your jars. Use in any recipe just as you would fresh garlic. Keeps refrigerated up to 2 months and can be frozen up to 6 months.
That’s it! Enjoy!
If you like lemon garlic things as much as I do—lemon garlic chicken, lemon garlic spinach, pasta etc—why not make your lemon as easy as your garlic? I leaned this one years ago.
Buy 4-5 lemons. Make sure at least one is unblemished. Wash them carefully. Then take the prettiest lemon, trim the thick ends off, and cut it into eighths. Remove the seeds and put them in a food processor (yes, leave the peel on). Squeeze the juice of the other lemons over it. Buzz them on high speed until you have a nice, even lemon slush. Add a bit of salt, about half a teaspoon. Buzz again to mix. Put it in a jar and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 weeks. Use as lemon in any dish.