Get out the Altoids, the Tic Tacs, and the Wrigley’s Spearmint: It’s hardneck-garlic season. Planted in the fall, harvested in July and August, and cured for a few weeks, the local crop is now at its pungent peak. Unlike the supermarket softneck variety, hardneck is difficult to grow, but it yields bigger and easier-to-peel cloves that possess superior flavor. Look for the woody-stemmed bulbs at several Union Square Greenmarket stands including Keith’s Farm, Maxwell’s Farm, and Paffenroth Gardens, and try them in this stupendously good confit garlic recipe from Savoy’s Ryan Tate.
Ryan Tate’s Confit Hardneck Garlic
1 head hardneck garlic
Pinch of kosher salt
1 sprig rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
1 chile de árbol
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 oil-cured olives, finely chopped
Zest of one lemon
1 tbs. tarragon leaves
Preheat oven to 300. (1) Cut garlic bulb in half horizontally. (2) Sprinkle with salt. Place bulbs in small ovenproof dish (or place each half-bulb in a small ramekin), and arrange the rosemary and thyme and chile around the garlic. (3) Pour olive oil to completely cover garlic. Bake in oven for 50 minutes or until garlic is tender. Allow garlic to reach room temperature. Remove garlic from oil, keeping the shape of the half-bulbs intact. Place on serving plate and sprinkle with the chopped olives, lemon zest, and tarragon leaves. Drizzle with a little of the garlic oil, and spread onto crackers or toast.