In my family, we loved garlic. It’s in our DNA. My mother, my aunt, my uncles would use mounds of it when cooking. As I’ve stated before, vampires would have a hard time with us. Looking back on it now, it’s odd that we used garlic in conjunction with olive oil, but always as separate ingredients in a dish. We never combined the two as one spice. The Italian norm of dipping bread into olive oil combined with strips of garlic and using that instead of butter, never occurred to us. It wasn’t native to our cooking. When I traveled to Italy in the 1980s and discovered garlic oil, another innovation to me, and I was in heaven. I’ve used garlic oil in whatever variation ever since.
And it’s so easy to combine these two staples. You can use it in vinaigrettes, dressings, marinades, you name it. Add to that, it is the simplest thing to make.
Given below is my standard basic recipe for garlic oil, followed by a couple of quick recipes for this wonder weapon of cooking. The recipes yield 4 servings.
Cloves from 1 head garlic, peeled and crushed
1 cup olive oil (either regular for a more piquant taste, or extra virgin for a more subtle taste)
1. In a medium pot or pan, add garlic and olive oil.
2. Cook over medium-low heat until bubbles start to form around garlic, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low simmer and cook until garlic begins to brown, about 10 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and let cool at room temperature for 45 minutes. Use as needed; and store the rest in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
MAKES 1 CUP
FISH MARINATED IN GARLIC OIL
In a large zip-lock plastic bag, combine 2 pounds fresh fish fillets (any fish); 1/2 cup garlic oil with cloves; 2 lemons cut into thin rounds; salt and ground back pepper to taste; and 1 teaspoon dried oregano (or 2 teaspoons fresh). Shake to coat fish, and let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes. 10 minutes before serving, preheat broiler. Broil fish until done. If the fillet is very thick, it may need to be turned over one time.
CHICKEN MARINATED IN GARLIC OIL
In a large zip-lock plastic bag, combine garlic oil with cloves; 2 lemons cut into thin rounds; 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley; and 1 whole chicken (3-3 1/2 pounds), washed and cut into 8-10 pieces. Shake to coat chicken, and let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes. Or you can refrigerate overnight for a more pronounced flavor. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place chicken with marinade in a roasting pan. Season with salt and ground black pepper to taste, and bake until skin is golden and chicken is cooked through, 30 to 35 minutes.