Roasted garlic adds flavor to mashed potatoes
My first taste of oven-roasted garlic hooked me.
Unlike the strong bite you get from fresh, raw garlic, oven-roasted garlic almost melts on your tongue, its smooth texture blooming into a subtle sweet flavor and aroma.
Restaurants introduced many American palates to the delight of roasted garlic, tantalizing diners with golden garlic heads shimmering with olive oil. Slices of warm French bread provided the perfect surface on which to smear a clove or two.
Years later, Cook's Illustrated showed how to simmer garlic heads in milk before they headed to the oven for roasting. The author waxed rhapsodic over the sweeter, creamier results produced by that warm milk bath. What piqued my interest, though, was that this roasted garlic needed only a light pre-oven olive oil drizzle versus the usual generous splash.
I took the time to bathe and roast garlic this new way and found it equaled the author's results. However, the added steps and elevated hassle-factor outweighed the benefits. This led me to skip the milk bath and roast garlic with just a drizzle of oil. My quick and simple method produced only slightly lesser results.
Next, I found that roasted garlic, if allowed to cool to room temperature in a sealed foil jacket and then refrigerated, keeps for several weeks. Unfortunately, I also learned the hard way that unless I kept my garlic tightly sealed inside several plastic sandwich bags and then in a screw-top glass jar, my refrigerator took on a definite garlic aroma.
If you've ever peeled, chopped, pounded and mashed fresh garlic and salt into a paste you know what a pain that is. Oven-roasted garlic pops out of its papery shell with a push from the bottom, at which point it can be mashed with a fork as easy as mashing an over-ripe banana.
If I need to use all the cloves from a head of roasted garlic, I simply place the cool or cold head with the root end in my palm and squeeze. Most of the cloves slide up and out simultaneously. The natural sugars in garlic will make your hand sticky. If you don't want to smell like garlic, rinse your hands with lemon juice and then water.
Roasting four garlic heads at a time makes roasted garlic always available. I smear some on pita bread as the first step to preparing my pita faster-than-delivery pizzas. A spritz of olive oil and a smear of oven-roasted garlic on fresh, good-quality French bread makes the best "lean" garlic bread I've ever tasted. I use roasted garlic as the foundation for sensational low-fat creamy garlic dressing, too.
The very best, thing that roasted garlic does is make low-fat whipped potatoes taste delicious without adding much in the way of fat or calories. It may seem common to read of garlic mashed potatoes today, but they have achieved permanent status on my special occasion menus.
My lean version of roasted garlic whipped potatoes uses all the best ingredients to achieve a texture and flavor that seems just like the all-butter, higher fat version. I use 1-percent milk because I believe it delivers more flavor than skim milk. I use reduced-fat sour cream because fat-free sour cream just doesn't cut it here.
I find that fat-free margarine in those squeeze bottles adds a buttery flavor without adding fat or many calories. I use salt generously since it seems to increase all the flavors and balance the natural sweetness of the potatoes.
These days I can't imagine not having a head or two of roasted garlic sitting in my fridge, sealed in a jar waiting to make some dish better than it would have been without it.
Here's my recipe for roasted garlic whipped potatoes, including how I roast garlic. Due to the differences in potatoes, don't follow my recipe exactly. You may need a little more milk or tablespoon of sour cream or more fat-free margarine. Don't be afraid to dip a spoon in to taste your potatoes and fine-tune the seasoning.
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4 firm heads garlic
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
Place the oven rack in the lower-middle position and begin heating the oven to 350 degrees.
Lay each garlic head on its side on a cutting board and roll it around, pressing downward to loosen the papery outer skin. Peel away the loose skin; stopping when it becomes difficult to remove any more. Using a sharp knife, cut 1/2-inch from the tip end of each garlic head; discard the tips.
Place each garlic head, cut side up, on an 8-inch square of aluminum foil. Drizzle 1/2 teaspoon of the olive oil over each head. Gather the corners of each square together and twist to seal. Place each packet on the oven rack and roast until very soft, about 1 hour. Let cool.
When completely cool, place the packets in a plastic sandwich bag, and then in another bag and then in a jar with a screw-top cap. Seal and refrigerate. Keeps for at least two weeks.
Nutrition values per garlic clove: 5 calories(18 percent from fat), 0.1 g fat (trace of saturated fat), 1 g carbohydrate, trace of fiber, trace of protein, no cholesterol, 1 mg sodium.
Sinless Oven-Roasted Garlic Whipped Potatoes
2 1/2 pounds all-purpose white or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
1 head of oven-roasted garlic, cloves squeezed out
1/4 to 1/3 cup 1 percent milk, warmed or at room temperature
2-3 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
2 tablespoons squeezable fat-free margarine
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Minced fresh parsley leaves, for garnish
Paprika, for garnish
Place the potatoes in a 5-quart saucepan and add enough cold water to cover by I inch. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the potatoes pierce easily with a fork. Drain.
While the potatoes cook, mash the garlic cloves on a small plate with a fork. Set aside.
Place the cooked and drained potatoes in a large mixing bowl. With an electric mixer on low, begin to break up the potatoes. As they break up, slowly turn the mixer's speed up to medium. Add the mashed garlic, milk, sour cream, fat-free margarine, salt and pepper and mix until smooth, about 45 seconds to 1` minute. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Spoon the whipped potatoes into a warmed serving bowl, dust with paprika, sprinkle with parsley and serve. Makes six servings.
Nutrition values per serving (1 teaspoon added salt): 173 calories(5 percent from fat), 1 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 38.2 g carbohydrates, 3.3 g fiber, 2.6 g protein, 3 mg cholesterol, 404 mg sodium.
Don Mauer’s “Lean and Lovin’ It” column appears every other Wednesday. Don welcomes comments, suggestions and recipe makeover requests at firstname.lastname@example.org.