Sunday, February 26, 2012

Make Your Own Liquid Gold

Garlic and Herb Infused Olive Oil
Sometimes it's the simple things in life that are just so good. For me, there is nothing better than the smell of garlic heating in olive oil. It gets all of my senses going, and I start to imagine all of the delicious forms this smell could physically take on... oven roasted vegetables, sauteed seafood, a classic spaghetti and marina or a simple dipping oil for some good crusty bread. The possibilities are endless... and it all starts with a few simple ingredients. So today I decided to bottle that smell, and preserve that flavor so that it is ready in a moment's notice. It's silly how easy it is, yet incredibly delicious.

Garlic and Herb Infused Olive Oil

  • 1 bottle of olive oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • pinch of dried herb mix and salt

Empty a bottle of oil into a pan and heat on medium-low. Peel several cloves of garlic and smash them to release their juices (don't chop) then add to hot oil. Next, add a pinch of sea salt or kosher salt, and any dried herbs you really like. An Italian blend would work great and be very versatile, or you can use something more particular like rosemary. I chose to use my new favorite seasoning of ALL time... Bragg Organic Sprinkle. It's a blend of 24 organic herbs and spices, with no salt. It is SO stinking delicious. I now use it in EVERYTHING! I'm slightly obsessed.

There are two reasons you need to saute the garlic and herbs in the oil, rather than just plunking them into the bottle and letting them marinate. First, the heat will bring out the flavor of the garlic and herbs and actually infuse it into the oil, and you get to experience the heavenly aroma. And second, by bringing up the temperature enough to kill bacteria in or on the garlic, you save yourself from a nasty case of food poisoning. Let it bubble for a few minutes, but do not get it going so hot that you are frying the garlic. Excessive heat destroys the olive oil and changes it's chemical properties so that it could actually be carcinogenic. Olive oil should never get to the smoking point, and is well suited for low to medium heat cooking, or unheated in dressings, dips, etc.

Put a strainer on top of a glass measuring cup with a spout for easy pouring, and carefully pour the hot oil through. All of the garlic and large pieces of herbs will then be removed from the oil, and you can carefully pour it back into the original bottle. Allow it to cool with the lid off. Now don't go throwing away that garlic! Now that it's been cooked it has a really mild flavor and you can eat it on bread, or if you're like me, eat it all by its delicious self. 

Use the infused oil in salad dressings, drizzle over pasta, add some Parmesan cheese and black pepper and dip in some hot and crusty bread, whip it up with some goat cheese for a delicious spread, drizzle it over sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese for a Caprese type snack, or toss with fresh basil, diced tomato and onion for a tasty bruschetta. And, savor every golden drop!