Thursday, July 21, 2011


I hike Dash up on my hip, forearm in line with his thoracic spine, fingers lengthening up his neck and into his hair.

Bust apart 3 heads of garlic. It works well to press down on a bulb with your body weight, one palm on top of the other. It's okay if some of the cloves cling together in bunches of 2 or 3.

His legs dangle all the way down to my knees. Swing. Kick. Kick.

Every now and then a clove will explode in the hot oil and shoot up towards the ceiling. To prevent this, poke a tiny hole in each clove with the tip of a paring knife.

I nuzzle my nose into his hair and say, "I think you grew again. How did this happen?"

Place the unpeeled cloves in a large pot and cover with olive oil. You can add extras like salt, a sprig of thyme, or a rosemary branch. Or not.

Dash sighs. He can't believe he has to explain this growing up thing to me again. "Sleep. Food. Sleep. Food. Sleep. THAT'S how it happens, mama."

Or maybe it's all the garlic. I don't know how to cook without it. My children are composed of garlic.

Place pot on the back burner. Bring to the boil.  Do NOT get your face (or your child's) anywhere near the pot. 
I peel Dash off my body and secure him on a stool. We lean forward and peer into a pot that's cooling on the chopping block.

The oil will sputter, so reduce the heat to low the moment it boils.

"Dashi. What is this?"

"Octopus?" he smiles, very pleased with his joke.
"Nope, crazyhead. Not octopus."

Gently simmer the cloves.

"Hm, mama. Let me think. Is it garlic con-FEE?"

Check on the cloves after 20 minutes (scoop one out with a spoon and pierce it with a paring knife). 

"Dashi. What does confit mean?"


"My love, what if we you cooked YOU in fat?"

"But you love me so much you don't want to get me in confit."

The cloves should be soft all the way through, like plump and oily pillows.

"I think you would be delicious that way."

Cool to room temperature.

"Mama, I would tip the oil on the ground, run, and hide. Maybe outside." 
"Dash, what else can we confit?"

You can suck the cooked garlic right out of the skins.


You can squirt the contents of a few cloves onto grilled bread.

"Yup. Like duck or lamb."

Use the creamy garlic as a base for salad dressing (pestled with anchovy into a paste).

"But, mama, can I shoot the animals first? Can we do that?"

Or mix it with fresh herbs and goat cheese as a topping for lamb chops.


The surrounding oil can be used in almost everything.

Lung capacity breath. I get so pissed off when I talk about guns.  Or I start to cry. 

Drizzle it over pizza. Or make a Garlic Confit, Parsley, and Almond Pesto.

The next breath I take is so deep that it lifts and spreads my collarbones.

The cloves (with skins on) and oil will keep in the fridge for a few weeks. Make sure all the cloves are covered with oil.  

Killing a duck and then eating it for dinner? "Okay, Dash. I'm open to that."

"Okay, mama."


1. Corn, Cherry Tomato, Arugula, and Spinach Salad: Cut two ears of corn off the cob. Halve a handful of cherry tomatoes. Heat a skillet. Add 2 tablespoons of garlic confit oil until hot. Toss in corn, tomatoes, and a pinch of salt.  Add 1 tablespoon sherry wine vinegar and big squeeze of lemon. Stir over high heat for 10 seconds. Pour over a big bowl of baby spinach and arugula. Toss. (Optional addition: circle salad with Bacon-Wrapped Figs Stuffed with Goat Cheese.)

2. Garlic Confit Vinaigrette: Mash two of the confited garlic cloves and one anchovy fillet with a mortar and pestle. Add one chopped shallot. Top with 3 tablespoons of a combination lemon juice, white wine vinegar, and sherry wine vinegar. Macerate for 10 minutes. Whisk in 2 teaspoons of dijon mustard. Drop by drop whisk in 6 tablespoons of olive oil (or a combo of olive oil and garlic confit oil). Taste. Adjust. 

3. Lime Potatoes with Poached Eggs: Preheat oven to 375°F. Peel and quarter 12-16 large yukon gold potatoes. Coat with lots of salt, pepper, lime zest, lime juice, and 4 tablespoons garlic confit oil. Place in a pot with a lid or wrap in tin foil. Throw in a few chunks of butter, the juiced lime bodies and some cloves of the confited garlic. Bake 30-45 minutes (stir and check after 20 minutes so bottom potatoes don't burn). Test with a paring knife for doneness (the knife should slip right in). Remove lime bodies. Serve with poached eggs, grated monterey jack cheese, chopped cilantro, sour cream, and hot sauce.


Break apart a few heads of garlic. It's okay to have bunches of 2 or 3 cloves. Poke a tiny hole in each clove to prevent the cloves from exploding. Place unpeeled cloves in a deep pot and cover with olive oil. Add pinch of salt and herbs if you desire (sprig of thyme or branch of rosemary). Bring to the boil. Reduce heat right away to prevent spattering. Place on the back burner and don't get your face anywhere near the pot. Simmer until garlic is cooked through, soft, and creamy (20-30 minutes). Cool to room temperature. You can keep the cloves (with skins on) and oil for a few weeks in the fridge. Make sure cloves are covered with oil. Add more oil if you need to. Scoop out oil as needed. Squeeze garlic out of the skins as needed.


  1. Won't the skins muck up all that lovely oil? I've never cooked garlic confit, so I have no experience, but... I'm paranoid about things like skins.

  2. circeo,
    you don't eat the garlic skins. and they are surprisingly clean. they don't muck up the oil at all. just scoop out the oil as needed.

  3. I cannot LOVE more the way you tell a story- integrating your conversations with your precious children and the food you make together. It is precious and unique and it makes me so so happy. Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. I realize Circeo touched on the skins but I just need clarification. When you store it you leave the skins on? And you are just using the oil for things, not the garlic heads. My husband and I love garlic in most anything, so our daughters will just have to learn to love it ;) roasted garlic spread on pita with feta and kalamata olives is a favored snack around our house. Thanks for this recipe, I'm excited to make it soon.

  5. anonymous: thank you. i love what you wrote.

    jess: you can use the cooked garlic AND the oil. i added a bit more language for clarification. thanks for the questions. and yes, you do leave the skins on until right before you use the cooked garlic. it squirts out like toothpaste! and it's so creamy, sweet, and smooth. your kids just might like it. it's very similar to roasted garlic.

  6. Phyllis, I've never done a garlic confit - it looks so simple and totally versatile.
    I really have to to see Dash soon. I am thinking he can teach me a thing or two in the kitchen:)

  7. Do you leave the burner on low for 20 minutes?

  8. junipertwilight: yes, once it comes to a boil turn it down to low (simmer) and leave it there. otherwise the oil will sputter and splash. check after 20 minutes. it might need more time (depending on size of cloves).

  9. My 23 month old has been asking for more 'confee' all week - thank you for a delicious recipe. We made a morning of it...picking the fresh garlic heads from our garden, crushing them, and then watching them bubble on the stove. I could drink the stuff.

    Please. Write. More.

    Love you blog and the way you integrate your kids. We'll have to get Dash and Isaac together one day...they'd cook a feast!

  10. JStowell: beautiful! you picked the garlic. omg. love it. thanks for telling me. it made my day.

  11. Nearly garlic season here again. Totally going to do this. Maybe as Christmas gifts.

  12. Not sure what took me so long but finally making garlic confit (right after I press the send button). I heard so much about your vinaigrette via Instagram, your recent photo with massaged (hee) kale salad sealed the deal!

    1. sure am loving instagram these days. it's connecting me with amazing women like you! and yippee for massaged kale!