As many of you know, Jess has been doing a lot to really help this blog become more serious and for her, an important part of that includes knowing more about cooking. She can definitely bake and knows more than she lets on, but this weekend we were talking and Jess said she doesn’t feel right co-running a food blog and not knowing more from a chef’s point of view.
I know I’m a little biased, but that’s one of the things I love most about her (she’s so smart and always eager to learn more) and I think that’s ridiculously commendable because a lot of people don’t care about things like that and are happy to skate by with what little they know. NOT MY LADY! But I digress.
Yesterday I dug up my old textbooks from college to help Jess learn more about the fundamentals of cooking, but she also wants to practice a lot of the techniques and recipes; so we figured – while we’re at it! – why not start a new series for the blog called “Bison Basics” and share these things with you all too? And since we need roasted garlic paste for a part of the elk burger we’ve been talking about, where better to start?
Homemade garlic paste is great because it has a much more mellow flavor and can be even a little bit nutty. You can use it in anything – sauces, soups, you name it. And since you’re roasting it, it’s not as harsh as, say, chopped garlic or granulated garlic, which means you don’t have to hold back as much as you normally might to keep from overpowering your foods with garlic up front. On the other side of that, I personally love it because you can use it to layer that garlic flavor in your dish by combining the paste with some chopped and/or granulated garlic as well.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place the bulb of garlic in a small pan and toss in the oven for 15-20 minutes (depending on size of garlic).
NOTE: Some people drizzle oil over the bulb before putting it in the oven but I like the dry method because it’s easier to handle afterwards. With the oil method, it can get really messy (sometimes the oil draws some of that garlic out and makes the cloves really sticky) and since oil conducts heat, it’s easier to burn the bulb when it’s oiled.
Remove the bulb of garlic from the oven and allow to cool. Peel and separate the cloves, discard the skin, and then, using a wide-bladed knife or spatula, smash the cloves against a cutting board repeatedly until it’s the consistency you want.
If you’re going to be using the garlic paste for something like a stir fry or salsa – where you want actual bits of garlic – go for a chunkier consistency; if you’re wanting just an essence of garlic in your dish, continue to mash the roasted garlic for a finer paste (which will also give you a more even flavor when used).
And that’s it! Pretty easy, huh? In the weeks to come, let us know if there are any cooking/baking questions that you’ve got on your mind and we’ll do a demo post to answer them. Until then…