Maybe wet garlic just needs better PR. Because here we are in the season for these beautiful bulbs of delicate, creamy flavour and you’ll be hard-pressed to find wet garlic making its presence felt amongst the fanfare given to the season’s asparagus. That is a real shame because these young bulbs which have not yet developed their internal skins and cloves are an absolute treat when roasted and spread onto, well, pretty much anything.
You should be able to find wet garlic at a local farmers market or farm shop, and marvellous Natoora have been selling them through ocado. Those ones are not the largest of bulbs but still very good.
When you do get your hands on some wet garlic the first thing to do is to smell it. Really give it a good old sniff and take in its rounded subtlety. Then you’ll know that once this baby is baked it is going to taste so much fresher than the ‘old’ garlic we are more used to using in our kitchens as to be almost a wholly different thing altogether.
I like to bake the wet garlic on rashers of smoked bacon with a drizzle of fino sherry to help their flavours, fattiness and saltiness mingle together. The garlic is then spread onto hunks of crusty bread and piled up with the bacon and goats cheese.
Something green alongside is a good idea but really the very best accompaniment to this dish is a cold glass of fino. Surely enough justification for buying a bottle even to use just a tablespoon of it in the recipe.
Wet garlic roasted on bacon with goats cheese & crusty bread (serves 2)
2 heads wet garlic (keep the stalks and use as you would leeks, or throw them into a pot of stock or soup for a hint of garlicness)
4 rashers smoked back bacon
1tbsp fino sherry
100g goats cheese
Preheat the oven to 160C.
Lay the bacon rashers in a single layer in a small baking dish. Cut the top off the garlic heads and sit them on top of the bacon. Drizzle the fino and a little olive oil over each the bulb. Season well and bake for 35-40 mins until the garlic is soft inside.
Break the goats cheese up with a fork and rip up some chunks of crusty bread. Then just spread the softened garlic onto the bread and pile up hugger-mugger with the goats cheese and bacon.
(Goats cheese, incidentally, is a lovely snug fit with the flavours but is also another nice nod to seasonality as the British Spring when we get wet garlic is also the best time for soft goat’s cheeses. Goats – unlike cows – do not produce milk all year round so British dairies that use traditional farming methods still make their goat’s cheeses from the springtime when the goats’ milk comes.)