Robin Anish | The Table is Set: Plant now for garlic dishes in summer
A nickel will get you on the subway, but garlic will get you a seat ...
— Yiddish (or Jewish?) New York saying
It's October and garlic is on my mind. Planting garlic is on my list of fall chores to be done before I call it quits in the garden this year. Garlic needs to be planted in the fall, once the temperatures cool down just enough to allow the cloves to begin to root but not sprout before the temperatures really drop and October, here in the Northeast, is the perfect time to do so.
Order seed garlic from catalogues or look for heads of organic garlic at the market for planting. Prepare a bed in the garden by tilling the soil and adding manure or compost. Keep in mind that garlic needs well-drained soil or it will rot. Separate the cloves of garlic and plant each clove roughly 3 inches deep and 6 inches apart with root end down and the pointed tip up. The first signs of growth in the spring will be the bright, spring green garlic sprouts popping up through the soil ... it's a beautiful sight after a long winter. By mid-summer you will be harvesting garlic. If you are inspired to give growing garlic a try, a web search will bring up loads of info to get you started.
Whether or not you grow your own, peel a bunch of garlic cloves and give this recipe a try.
A confit is traditionally duck or other meat cooked in its own fat; however, it often now refers to any number of foods cooked in an abundance of fat or oil as in this recipe for garlic confit.
Prepare a cup or more of whole, peeled garlic cloves or purchase peeled cloves. Put the cloves in a small saucepan and cover them completely with a mild olive oil. Bring the oil to a gentle simmer over medium heat and continue to cook or "poach" the cloves until they are tender and show just a bit of golden brown color. Do not let the cloves become too dark or they will be bitter. This will take about 30 minutes or more. Transfer the garlic and oil to a clean glass jar with a snug fitting lid. Cool and refrigerate promptly. Store for up to three weeks or freeze. It is important to keep the confit refrigerated.
Garlic confit is so good, its often devoured soon after I make it. Like many great foods, garlic confit is best served simply; the soft cloves, dripping in oil spread on a good, crusty bread, but go ahead and use it in any dish that would benefit from the sweet, buttery, garlicky goodness or just eat the cloves straight up and keep those vampires at bay ... for a happier Halloween!
Robin Anish is a former caterer who lives in Lenox, where she continues to cater to her enthusiasm for cooking. She can be contacted via The Berkshire Eagle at 75 South Church St., Pittsfield MA 01201.