Thomas Keller writes in his cookbook Bouchon that at his restaurant garlic confit is used in so many preparations that they consider it to be a pantry staple. Indeed if you've ever had it, it's tempting to figure out a way to use it in virtually everything.
Much like roasted garlic, as garlic confit cooks, submerged in a green pool of olive oil, it softens, turns golden brown and the flavor mellows to the point of an almost smokey sweetness. However, garlic confit also soaks in all that velvety oil and feels just a bit more decadent. Plus it has the added bonus of leaving you with a cup or more of delicious infused olive oil, perfect for dipping breads in or whisking into a robust salad dressing.
Garlic Confit Vinaigrette
(For the garlic confit)
the cloves from 2 heads of garlic, peeled and stem ends sliced off
3 sprigs fresh thyme or rosemary
1 to 1/2 cups olive oil
(For the vinaigrette)
8 cloves (or so) garlic confit
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 cup garlic-infused olive oil
First make the garlic confit. In a very small saucepan, combine the peeled garlic cloves, thyme or rosemary and the olive oil. Make sure the olive oil completely covers the garlic cloves. Cook the mixture over as low a heat as possible for 25 to 35 minutes, until the garlic cloves are golden brown and very tender. Allow the garlic and oil to return to room temperature.
To make the vinaigrette, take 8 or so of the garlic cloves and place in a small bowl. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and using a spoon, mash the garlic until it is very smooth. Add the lemon juice and vinegar and whisk to combine. In a slow, steady stream, add 1/2 cup of the oil that the garlic cooked in, whisking to emulsify. Grind in a bit of fresh cracked black pepper and taste to see if the seasonings need adjusting.