I grew up in Colorado, in a meat and potatoes household. We weren’t exposed to many “exotic” veggies, both because I wouldn’t have eaten them, and because they weren’t widely available in the eighties and early nineties. Our climate? She is a cold mistress.
Now, Colorado is experiencing some expansion in the farmer’s market scene. There are a wider variety of vegetables available than ever before, and people are becoming more familiar with the “weird” ones.
In culinary school, and in the Texas farmer’s market scene, I’ve learned a LOT about different fresh vegetables. I’ve learned to like asparagus; learned to cherish the freshest, sweetest tomatoes. I’ve expanded my salad greens outside of the romaine/iceberg rut (though I’ve still got a ton to learn), and I’ve learned how different carrots can taste when they’ve been in the ground 24 hours previous to eating.
But I have NEVER, in all of my born days, seen this sucker… at least, not before Saturday:
When I bought it, it still had about a foot of tough green stem attached. I thought it was a spring onion. It was not.
It was, in fact, a bulb of garlic.
Many of you already know this. Many of you are like, “Kristie is clearly a moron of the highest order, and should only be buying prepackaged food from Costco if she’s dumb enough and inexperienced enough to not know a bulb of garlic when she sees it. Somebody please remove the drool from her chin and the Shun knives from her counter.” But maybe you should get off of my delicate nutz already, because I had honestly never seen fresh-from-the-ground spring garlic before. Please accept my apologies. I had also never seen a trailer park until my second year of college, and when I did, I thought it was where non-outdoorsy people went to “go campin’.”
And you can eat the whole thing, except for obviously the top greens that have gotten tough or the outer couple of tougher layers. It smells? Like GAAAHLICK! No namby-pamby, gentle, spring-fresh scent coming out of this mofo. It’s a straight up garlic wallop.
What I did with them, this time, is confit them by slicing them up and slow-simmering them in olive oil for about an hour and a half. They were all tender and spreadable by that point. Then I dumped the oil and garlic mixture into a tupperware and stuck it in the fridge. It’ll keep for about a week that way, but you don’t want to leave it much longer than that for a couple of reasons:
1) Apparently there’s some kind of worry about the anaerobic whatsits that can grow when garlic sits in olive oil. Botulism being the primary concern. I don’t know if that’s just at room temperature, but the lesson to be learned is don’t keep garlic oil around for more than a week or two without using it, unless you’re familiar with food safety standards and know the rules about this. What’s that line from Big Daddy? “I don’t know the rules about kids and grown ups and being naked, so just keep your swimsuit on for now.” Something like that…
2)It’s forking delicious. You don’t want to leave it for a week, because you’re going to eat it. You’re going to spread it on fresh bread. You’re going to dollop a tablespoon of it in your soup. You’re going to stick a few handfuls of it in your purse– you know, the compartment that is otherwise totally worthless and ends up filled with gum wrappers and ugly orange lip gloss?– so you can snack on it at the DMV. It’ll be gone before you know it.
Cassoulet is a slowly-simmered French dish of beans, vegetables, pork, and duck confit, all smothered in crunchy breadcrumbs. Like a casserole that the lovely old French lady neighbor would bring over to the new neighbor, if she wanted the new neighbor to caress her old lady parts with talcum powder and hot younger man essences.
And pizza. It makes a great pizza topping. I didn’t take any pictures of that because we make pizza about once a week these days. I can’t get enough of them, whether we end up baking or grilling or whatever.
The lesson to be learned here is that if you see green garlic or spring garlic or whatever at your local farmer’s market this spring, grab as much as you are humanly capable of carrying. Elbow other customers in the face to get it. Show up early so there’s plenty left. Then slice it all up, confit it in olive oil, and use it on/in/around everything you possibly can. It’s sweet and fragrant and pungent. And if you make too much, you can always stick portions of it into an ice cube tray and freeze them. Then keep them in a ziplock bag in the freezer and throw a cube into whatever you’re making.
It’s the new black. It goes with everything.
As the Notorious BIG would say, “If you don’t know, now you know, ninja.”