Sunday, May 4, 2014
Smoked Garlic, or, How to Roast Garlic on a Smoker
Whether served raw and slivered paper-thin into EVOO with a sprinkling of coarse sea salt and cracked peppercorns as a gloriously pungent and assertive dip for artisan bread, or mellowed into robust yet elegantly well-rounded earthiness through slow roasting, sauteing, baking or frying, I can safely say that garlic is one of my favorite things to eat.
My favorite way to enjoy garlic has always been roasted -- that is, until yesterday.
Yesterday, Greg made smoked garlic.
Cooking garlic cloves on a smoker produces the most wonderfully smooth, rich roasty flavor and buttery-soft spreadable texture I have ever experienced in garlic. To my surprise, the smoked garlic had just a light, subtle kiss of smokiness that played a complementary supporting role to the almost sweet, toasty and deeply complex roasted garlic flavors. And there was absolutely no pungency or sharpness. In short, the roasted garlic tasted sublime.
If you enjoy garlic, especially when roasted, you'll be happy eating smoked garlic as an appetizer with crackers, crostini or bread (you can mash a bunch of smoked cloves into a paste or use a knife to spread a clove onto your cracker etc.); blended with cream cheese and sour cream to make a roasted garlic dip; spooned over sliced roast beef, London broil, grilled pork chops, roasted chicken or turkey, or with other similar main courses; tossed with cooked vegetables or a salad; and even on its own.
In the photo on the left, Greg smoked the garlic in a tray along with a separate tray of jalapeno cheddar cheese, placing both trays on the smoker when the chicken he was smoking had about an hour left to cook.
If you can buy containers of already-peeled "dry packed" (not in a jar with liquid) garlic cloves at Whole Foods or other supermarket, I recommend make a large batch because you can store the smoked garlic in your refrigerator if you place it in a small jar or other tightly lidded container and cover the smoked garlic cloves with olive oil.
Here's how to cook garlic on your smoker:
Lots of peeled garlic cloves (at least a couple dozen)
Olive oil or butter (about 1 Tbs per 15-20 cloves)
Kosher salt or other salt
Start your smoker and bring to about 250° to 275° F. Place the garlic in a small aluminum foil pan, such as the disposable ones for baking mini-loaves of bread if smoking 2 or 3 dozen cloves; a larger foil pan for larger quantities. The garlic cloves should be spread out to cover the bottom of the pan as close to a single layer as possible and not more than a double layer in depth, as shown on the right, to ensure even cooking.
Add the olive oil or butter, then sprinkle very lightly with salt -- Greg used no more than 1/4 tsp for this batch of about 30 cloves.
Place the pan on your smoker and cook until the garlic cloves are golden-brown and extremely soft -- this takes about 45 to 60 minutes, and below is what they looked like after 30 minutes:
Cooking time will vary depending on how much garlic you're smoking, the smoker temperature, and weather conditions that may influence smoker temperature (e.g., winds, humidity, cold, etc.). You might also prefer a deeper or a lighter roast. Here's how we like our smoked garlic, at about the one-hour mark: