Baked garlic, savory and sweet, finds its way into our kitchen more often than it should – weaving its way in and out of sauces, breads and soups. And, without a doubt, we enjoy it in its own right – unctuous and smooth, intensely garlicky and scented with fresh thyme. Garlic, mellowed but simultaneously made richer by roasting, provides a lovely, but mild sweetness to savory dishes.
Garlic, like leeks, onions and most alliums, is a potent food – rich in nutrients including sulfur-compounds which account for its strong odor, vitamins and minerals. Some research indicates that garlic may offer benefits to your heart and cardiovascular system – possibly even reducing LDL (bad cholesterol) in some individuals. Garlic also anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties which may account for its use as a traditional folk remedy for fighting colds and flus. Garlic is a nutrient-dense, valuable food that not only supports your overall health but also provides a beautiful depth of flavor to your cooking.
In this version of baked garlic, I season fresh bulbs of fragrant heirloom garlic with thyme. Instead of the customary addition of olive oil, I roast my garlic by using lard – richly flavored and dense in vitamin D. The lard, a monounsaturated fat like olive oil and avocado, provides a lovely flavor to the final dish – a richness found only in real food.
- 6 bulbs fresh heirloom garlic
- 6 tbsp pastured lard
- 1 bunch fresh thyme
- unrefined sea salt
- Preheat oven to 400° F.
- Gently rub away as much of the papery outer skins of the garlic bulbs of you can, but take care to leave the skins encasing the garlic cloves intact.
- Using a good sharp and sturdy knife, chop the very top of the bulbs of garlic off so that you might expose the tops of the individual cloves of garlic,
- Place the bulbs of garlic in a clay baker or casserole dish, root-side down.
- Dot each bulb with 1 tablespoon of pasture-raised lard.
- Cover the garlic with fresh thyme and sprinkle the bulbs with unrefined sea salt.
- Bake, covered, at 400° F for thirty to forty-five minutes. If you don’t have a covered casserole dish or clay baker, you may tent the bulbs of garlic with aluminum foil.
- After about thirty to forty-five minutes, when your home becomes fragrant with the rich scent of garlic and thyme, remove the garlic from the oven and allow it to rest and come to room temperature before serving it. Baked garlic is perfect on its own or with a slice of bread, but it also adds a beautiful, deep richness to any dish in which you would customarily use fresh garlic.