Garlic au Gratin
I brought home four pounds of garlic: one pound each Music, German red, Roja, and German white (seen left-to-right). The Music is the mildest and most complexly-flavored. I hope I will be able to get supplies of this amazing variety of garlic more often. The German red is by far the sharpest and hottest of the four. The Roja is similar to the Music in its bouquet of flavors, but sharper and with firmer cloves. The German white is the most common garlic in this area; it is medium hot and very flavorful. German red is a rocambole variety of garlic and all the others are porcelain. This useful site describes many garlic varieties with wonderful pictures. You will also want to look at Farmgirl's landmark post on growing garlic.
Naturally, I came away very excited about garlic and eager to prepare something that would use garlic as a main ingredient rather than just a flavoring. I decided to make this gratin, based on a similar recipe from Marcella Hazan for baked cauliflower. In my version, you use a pound of garlic (seventy cloves) instead of cauliflower. You can’t tell from the picture that there is garlic in there instead of cauliflower, but I promise there is. In fact, I have made this three times since the festival, once with Music, once with the German Red, and once with the German white. They all are delicious. If you use the German red you need to blanch it in two waters before it is mild enough to cook.
Garlic au Gratin
1 pound garlic (70 cloves)
béchamel made with
1 ½ tablespoons butter
1 ½ tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
5 ounces grated parmesan (sharp cheddar also works very well)
salt, pepper, and paprika
Smear a baking dish with butter, and heat the oven to 350.
Peel the garlic cloves. You can speed up the process by submerging them briefly in boiling water.
Make the béchamel: melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour. Cook, stirring for several minutes and add the milk. Cook and stir until the sauce becomes thick. Season with salt, pepper and paprika.
Boil the garlic in salted water until the cloves are tender. Depending on the type of garlic this may take ten to twenty minutes. If the garlic is especially hot, as is German red garlic, blanch it for one minute, discard the first water, blanch it again in a fresh pot, discard the second water, and then cook it for twenty minutes. Save the garlic water for your next soup, or to cook pasta.
Mix the cooked garlic cloves with most of the béchamel sauce and cheese, reserving a bit for the top. Spread the saucy, cheesy garlic in the baking dish, pour on the reserved béchamel, and sprinkle on the reserved cheese. Bake for about half an hour. Yummy!
This recipe appears in Yiddish here.
I just learned from Margot’s gorgeous Coffee and Vanilla that October is vegetarian awareness month. I can’t believe I was entirely unaware of this until the month was almost over, so I am very grateful to Margot, and with just a few hours of October left this year, I humbly submit this recipe for her World Vegetarian Day recipe event.