You’ve seen it at the farmer’s market, you’ve read about it on Ruhlman’s blog. It’s the tall, stalky plant that look like Beaker the muppet when held upside down.
[Image assembled haphazardly in Photoshop with picture from Ruhlman’s blog and a stretched-out picture of Beaker.]
It’s new garlic, or Spring garlic, or green garlic (depending on who you talk to) and it’s prized in the food community for its subtlety, its nuance, and its unique, Springy flavor. I’d cooked with green garlic before (see green garlic soup) and yet I hadn’t been entirely won over.
But now I’m whistling a different tune, thanks to my new favorite cookbook: Roast Chicken And Other Stories by Simon Hopkinson. The recipe he offers is truly simple, and yet in its simplicity lies the key to unlocking the mystery and the beauty of new/green/Spring garlic.
Here’s my interpretation of his easy recipe.
Buy as much green garlic as you would like; I bought one bunch, which contained four bulbs.
Preheat the oven to 400.
Cut the bulbs away from the stalk, about 1/4 of the way into the bulbs. Then cut off the Beaker hair because Beaker hair doesn’t taste good in food (though, according to Ruhlman, you should taste it. I hadn’t read his post yet when I did this, so next time I’ll try the Beaker hair.)
Place the bulbs in a baking dish and pour in 3/4 cup olive oil. If you have thyme and rosemary tuck them around the bulbs; I didn’t have them on hand, so I just used bay leaves. Cut a lemon into 6 wedges, squeeze the lemon over the bulbs and then place the lemon wedges in the baking dish too. Sprinkle the whole thing with salt and pepper; it should look like this:
Place in the oven and check it after 10 minutes; if the oil’s bubbling, turn the temperature down to 325. Then bake for a further 40 to 50 minutes until the garlic is roasted a golden brown (see top picture.)
Meanwhile–and here’s where it gets good–put some soft goat’s cheese (rindless goat’s cheese; about 6 oz) in a bowl and mash up with 6 Tbs of heavy cream. I used a fork for this and you won’t believe how creamy it gets. Add chili flakes and salt to taste. Place in a bowl.
Finally, toast some bread. I bought French bread which I cut in half horizontally, coated in olive oil and baked in the oven for a bit. I wish I’d used my broiler but I’m scared of my broiler–I’ve never used it! Ideally, the bread will get toasty and brown but my bread just got a little darker. Still, it worked perfectly well:
This was a huge hit. You spread the goat cheese on the bread and then squeeze the roasted garlic on top. Somehow these components all come together to create a Springtime symphony in your mouth. Those of you who’ve had roasted normal garlic in the past, will appreciate the subtlety of this Spring garlic, the delicate sweetness, the verdancy if that’s a word and according to my spellcheck it’s not. Hang on: according to a random internet dictionary it means, “the quality or condition of being green.” That sounds good to me. It’s not easy being green, but it sure tastes good. Eat some green garlic now.