🧄 Garlic Confit: A Simple Flavor Booster

Garlic confit is a flavor bomb you can use on just about anything.

Cooking something confit (pronounced “kon-FEE”) sounds fancy. And to be honest it is a little fancy. But that doesn’t mean it’s challenging. In fact, quite the opposite. Cooking “confit” is when you submerge something in fat and cook it low and slow. It was originally used as a preservation technique to extend the life of meats. Chefs often confit meat in its own fat—like duck cooked in duck fat—but you can also use any fat like olive oil.

So why cook something confit? Well, first off, even though it sounds like it, there actually aren’t any additional fees. 🥁 😉 But more importantly, confit is a great meal prep technique. You’ll have something delicious sitting in your fridge, ready to be pulled out for an easy dinner.

While you can confit potatoes, leeks, fish, chicken, and even lemons, today we’re talking garlic. I learned to make garlic confit recently, and I can honestly tell you, I can’t get enough of the stuff!

How to Cook Garlic Confit

The Base 🧄🫒🧈 

Start by peeling your garlic cloves and trimming off any root ends. Those ends can get bitter. Then you can either (1) leave the cloves whole or (2) slice them up. Slices are nice when you’re going to use the garlic confit as a condiment—like when adding it to a simple rice or pasta dish. It’s easier to slice when it’s raw, so you can save yourself some effort. On the other hand, whole cloves are great to mash or blend into something else like butter or hummus. 

Next, you’ll need fat. I like the extra flavor and ease you get from using olive oil, but at the end of the day, you can use any fat you want. The folks at Milk Street even recommend using equal parts olive oil and butter when you confit garlic to give it a little extra complexity.

The Flavor Boosters 🍋🌿🌶️

Just like anything, you can always boost the flavor! Consider adding dried chiles to give it a little heat and fruitiness. Sturdy herbs—like bay leaves, thyme, sage, or rosemary—add herbal notes. Orange or lemon zest infuse their essential oils into your garlicky concoction.

The Technique 🧑‍🍳

The simplicity is gonna blow you away. Combine all your ingredients (fat, garlic, and flavor boosters) directly into a saucepan. You want enough oil or fat to cover all your cloves. Heat your pan over medium-low heat. You want to bring the fat to a light simmer—just a few bubbles. If the fat gets too hot and rapidly bubbles or froths, you’re frying not confiting. 

Quick note: If you’re using butter or other solid fat, slowly melt it before adding your garlic.

Lightly simmer everything for about 30 to 45 minutes if your cloves are whole. Cut that down to about 15 to 20 minutes if you sliced your garlic. You want to make sure the oil doesn’t get too hot as it simmers. But other than that, you just have to be patient.

The garlic is done when it starts to get a shade or two darker and when there is little-to-no resistance when you poke the garlic with a knife. Once it’s done, take the pan off the heat and let everything cool for about 10-20 minutes. Pour it all into a container, and then store it in the refrigerator. The garlic confit will last a couple of weeks—just keep the cloves covered in the fat and use a clean spoon when digging anything out. You don’t want to introduce any unwanted germs. 🦠 

Using Garlic Confit

You’ve now got a flavor bomb sitting in your fridge! The cloves add a subtle, yet rich garlic flavor. And the fat is packed with flavor! You didn’t think we were going to waste it did you?!?

Some Ideas

  • Mash the cloves into room temperature butter. You’ll make any steak feel decadent. And it’s perfect for rubbing under chicken skin before roasting.

  • Add the sliced garlic to blanched green beans or roasted broccoli and then finish them with a touch of your infused oil or fat right before serving. 

  • For a garlic hummus that is sweet and luscious, blend the whole cloves with chickpeas (or even white bean!) And then, use your garlicky oil instead of regular olive oil. Gosh, I love 2-for-1 ingredients! 🙌

  • Dress up a side of pinto beans with garlic and a handful of herbs.

  • Use the infused fat to fry eggs in the morning and then mash a clove onto a piece of toast instead of butter. 

  • Finish a plate of pasta or a bowl of risotto with a drizzle of infused oil right before serving.

  • Wisk some lemon juice and salt into the fat for a simple vinaigrette that will taste anything but simple.

Okay, I’m going to shut up now. 😄 At the end of the day, I’ve learned you can use your garlic confit just about anywhere you want a mellow and sweet garlic flavor. It seriously elevates any dish. Even the garlic haters might end up liking it.

Resources: A cooking class I took from the folks at Milk Street, these two articles over on Serious Eats (How to Make Garlic Confit and What The Heck is Confit?), and Yotam Ottolenghi’s MasterClass


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