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.