Are you a garlic lover? The month of July is typically when we harvest our garlic in this part of the country but this year harvest time was about a month early. After a hearty harvest one is left with the query of what to do with all that garlic? I store some for use over the winter, best in a cool, dry, dark place like in a basement or root cellar. Do you have a wine cellar? Better yet! I do, however, like to use some when it is fresh and the flavor is so vibrant. Incorporating it in a compound butter is one use or using it to flavor pesto, which I promise is a future blog, is another, but I am always on the lookout for new ways to tease my taste buds and tickle my fancy. This, and my tendency to convert traditionally sweet preparations to savory, led me to todays featured recipe for Garlic Flan.
Let just first talk a bit about this beautiful member of the lily family. It is a cousin to leeks, chives, onions, and shallots. It has long been credited with providing and prolonging physical strength and is said to have been fed to Egyptian slaves while building the giant pyramids. How could they possibly know that? Throughout the centuries, its medicinal claims have included cures for toothache, consumption, open wounds and evil demons. Let us not forget warding off vampires!
When the Italian immigrants hit our shores they were often ridiculed for their use of this smelly vegetable but it has since become a staple in most American kitchens. Some people have said, “you can never use too much garlic” but I must disagree. Garlic has a very pungent flavor and too much can be overpowering while used in balance with other ingredients, it can enhance the overall flavor of a dish.
I came upon this recipe for Garlic Flan in The Tuscan Sun Cookbook by Frances Mayes. I had just recently eaten a classic dessert flan prepared by my friend for my birthday and seemed to have flan on the brain. I was excited to try this savory version. Here it is!
Recipe Serves 6
1 whole head of garlic
2c heavy cream
A few gratings of nutmeg
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
4 egg yolks, beaten
Extra virgin olive oil for the ramekins
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Separate the cloves from the head of the garlic. without peeling them, place them in boiling water for 7 minutes. Cool, and with your fingers, squeeze out the garlic from the skin, crush with a fork and mince to a fine paste.
- Bring the cream and garlic just to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Stir in the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Remove from the heat, beat a few tablespoons of the cream into the egg yolks, then add them to the cream.
- Spoon into six 3 1/2-inch well-oiled ramekins.
- Bring 3 cups pf water to a boil. Place ramekins in a 9 x 13 baking dish as deep as the ramekins. Pour the boiling water halfway up the sides of the ramekins and bake for 20-25 minutes or until set, but soft and silky.
- Cool for 10 minutes before unmolding, or serve in the ramekins.
This preparation is so delightful! My husband, who is a huge garlic lover says, “it’s a garlic lovers dream come true.” I served this with grilled lamb chops, and parsley salad (another blog coming soon) and it was a perfect pairing. The whiff of garlic and silky texture of this flan would be a wonderful accent for any roasted or grilled meat. The pungent flavor you may expect from the garlic is mellowed by cooking it in the water and then again in the cream so do not be afraid!
Frances Mayes says you can add some sautéed mushrooms for variation but I think the silky texture would be compromised and that was one of the features I liked best. As I always encourage, however, do it your way. I would love to hear your versions and reactions to this savory and unusual side dish.