Did I mention that I have a lot of garlic these days? It’s grown about 2 miles down the road from us at Charman Farms — so when I say I have a lot of garlic, what I actually mean is that I have just shy of 5 lbs — 6 different varieties — of fresh, juicy artisanal garlic with some serious bite.
Bite can be good, but sometimes (like say, after tasting over 12 varieties of garlic, RAW, on an empty stomach) mellow is what you need. “Roasted garlic is mellow,” I said to myself as I was rubbing the dry spice rub onto the chicken legs destined for the smoker, and ultimately for our dinner plates that evening, “so hot smoked garlic should be mellow AND smoky, right?”
I love it when I’m right.
I prepared the bulbs as though I was going to roast them in the oven. I removed the excess papery skin, cut the top 1/4 of the bulb off to expose the cloves, and then lightly rubbed each whole bulb with olive oil to prevent them from drying out in the heat of the smoker.
I chose a couple of bulbs of Tibetan garlic, as well as 3 bulbs of Spanish Roja.
We have a handy-dandy Bradley Smoker, made right here in BC, from what looks to be the shell of a bar fridge. I’m not making fun here! This awesome little until holds 4 racks or beef jerky, pork butt, sockeye salmon — you name it — and there’s always a little extra room on the top rack for some peppers, eggplants or whatever else I’ve got a hankering to try smoking.
The garlic took about 2 hours at 220° F (100° C), which makes these babies hot smoked. It is also possible to cold smoke garlic, but that’s not what we’re doing today kids, so stick with the program please!
I used hickory — which is a strong tasting smoke — ’cause that’s what we had. In an ideal world, I would have used Maple or Cherry. But that’s a land with peppermint forests, gumdrop mountains, gingerbread orchards and where Bradley Smoker Bisquettes come free of charge.
Speaking of ideal worlds, if you don’t have a smoker, there are a number of different ways you can MacGyver your way to a functional home smoker using equipment you probably already have in your kitchen.
When they came out of the smoker, the cloves were soft, brown and buttery. And if that’s not the perfection definition of mellow, then you can take away my chef’s knife right now for forever.
To be honest with you, the Spanish Roja didn’t even make it onto the toast. We just sprinkled some with maple smoked salt and savoured them, one melt-in-your-mouth clove after the other, until a whole bulb was gone! At that point I wrapped up the other 2 bulbs and stashed them in the fridge for another day.
I mashed the Tibetan cloves with some butter and coarse sea salt, then spread it on some toasted baguette slices and garnished with parsley, freshly ground pepper and a couple of oven-roasted tomatoes. We munched on them in front of the TV before dinner, but they would also make nice crostinis to serve beside a soup or salad.