Jean’s Spicy Garlic Bread
I get a lot of emails but I get only a few that I really enjoy. One type that falls into the “enjoy” category is when one of you beautiful readers sends me a gem of a recipe that they’ve tried out with great success. These are my favorite emails in the world for a few reasons. First, it’s awesome that people think of me when they come up with a tasty dish. Second, it means I can reproduce it and share it with everybody else!
The thing is though (and you probably know this about me), I have a sort of hard time following instructions. This sometimes works out and sometimes it doesn’t. Since I’m naming this bread after the reader that mailed it in (Hi Jean!), I figured I should probably reproduce his instructions since I didn’t follow them exactly:
“I tried something new that I thought might be an interesting post. I baked garlic in olive oil in the oven for about 30 minutes (used a ramekin) and when i took it out, i put diced jalapeno peppers in the mixture and let it cook a bit (out of the oven). Then I mashed it up and used it to make a spicy garlic bread. The olive oil was infused with the pepper and was spicy without being overpowering. It was an invention of desperation and i’m sure could be improved upon.”
1) Peel garlic cloves and roughly chop them, then add them to a small oven-safe saucepan or a ramekin and bake at 300 for about 20 minutes. Check it regularly to make sure the garlic doesn't burn. You can also just cook this on low on the stove top for a few minutes until the garlic is tender.
2) Meanwhile chop up a few Serrano or jalapeno peppers. If you leave the seeds in, you'll end up with a spicier bread.
3) When the garlic is done, mush it with a fork and add your peppers to the oil mixture. Set this over low heat on the stove or just return it to the oven. Cook for another few minutes until it's very fragrant, but not browned.
4) Slice some sturdy bread into 4 thick slices.
5) Spoon garlic and pepper mixture on bread and drizzle on oil.
6) Bake at 400 degrees for 5-8 minutes until crispy and slightly browned on top.
I really do have a hard time following instructions sometimes. I didn’t use jalapeno peppers, but Serrano. I’m not sure that it matters either way. I also didn’t bake them in a ramekin but in a small saucepan that I could move from the oven to the stove. I don’t know if my version was improved but it was very good.
Cooking the garlic
Peel the garlic but leave the cloves pretty whole. You can roughly chop them if you want. Then add them to an oven-safe saucepan or ramekin and almost cover them with olive oil. You’ll probably need about 1/4-1/3 of a cup of olive oil.
Stick this in the oven on 300 for about 15-20 minutes (you might need more time with a ramekin). Keep an eye on it though so the garlic doesn’t burn. The low heat should work fine for that amount of time. Your goal here is to soften the garlic and infuse the oil but not really brown the garlic.
Meanwhile you can chop up some peppers!
I started with 3 Serranos, but then I quickly pared it down to two. In hindsight, I might have kept it at 3 since I like really spicy stuff. Two was the perfect level of spicy though for most people I think. When I had one bite it wasn’t exactly spicy, but the spice would kick in slowly after a few bites which is great.
I diced mine up seeds and all. If you want to lessen the heat, cut out the seeds and white pulp before you dice them up.
When the garlic oil comes out of the oven (careful it’s hot), the cloves should be soft enough to mush up roughly with a fork.
So, ya know, mush them with a fork.
Then add in all your chopped peppers. This will be pretty fragrant. I wouldn’t recommend inhaling deeply over this small pan. It’s potent stuff right now.
If you have a stove-safe pan, add it over a low heat and stir for a few minutes until the peppers are soft. Again, you don’t necessarily want them really brown. If you don’t have something you can move from oven to stove, I think you could also just put this back in the oven for a few minutes and it should do the trick.
As an alternative, I think you could just use the stove top for this. Just cook the garlic on low heat until it’s tender, then add the peppers and continue cooking on low.
Finishing the bread
One important thing about all garlic breads, but definitely this one, is to use really sturdy bread. Wonder bread simply will not do.
I used a good sourdough bread and sliced it pretty thick.
Lay these slices out on a baking sheet and then, once your oil mixture is done cooking for a few minutes, slather each piece of bread with some of the oil mixture.
To make sure I had an even distribution, I spooned out the garlic and peppers and spread that on the bread, then drizzled on some of the oil over each piece.
I didn’t use all of the oil, but almost.
Then crank up your oven to 450 and bake these slices for about 5-8 minutes until they are nice and browned on top. I tried something experimental with a few of my slices and added some provolone cheese to the bread.
Strangely, and you will almost never hear this from me, I liked the non-cheese version better!
I know I’ve made garlic bread two days in a row now, but I think that’s okay because garlic bread is an important subject. And this version is a great twist on the classic.