Tuesday, October 9, 2012

One Great . . . crispy garlic bread

Fall is the time for baked pasta, and baked pasta is the time for garlic bread. From October through March, many of my nightly meal plans can be written as "some kind of pasta, green salad, garlic bread."

After awhile, those frozen loaves in the paper/foil wrapper just don't cut it. Too doughy, too soggy, not enough flavor. If something represents a third of my plate, I'd like it to be more of an event.

I had been hanging on to this recipe from Cook's Country for a couple of years when I noticed it recently in the stack of "recipes I need to try." I'm sorry I waited: It's got a powerful amount of flavor and it turns out garlic bread that is just soft enough inside and just crispy enough outside. The original recipe made 12 slices. I sized it down for 8 slices, the perfect amount for 4 people, but I included the original amounts at the bottom, along with a cheese option. You might want more of this one.

Crispy Garlic Bread

From the October/November 2010 issue of Cook's Country magazine. For the bread, get a loaf of French or Italian bread from the bakery area of the supermarket. You want bread that's kind of soft and not too crusty.

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
8 (1-inch-thick) slices Italian bread

PREHEAT oven to 425 degrees with rack in the center position. Place a rimmed baking sheet on the rack to warm. (When I tested the recipe, I was baking lasagne at 350 degrees. I turned the oven up to 425 but didn't warm the baking sheet and it worked fine.)

PLACE  the butter in a small mixing bowl. Using a rasp grater or the small holes on a box grater, grate the garlic into the butter. (Or you can minced it finely.) Add the sugar, salt and pepper and beat with a fork until well combined. Spread the butter mixture evenly over both sides of each slice of bread.

ARRANGE  the bread slices on the baking sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown on the bottom. Turn the slices with tongs and return to the oven to bake the other side for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

MAKES  4 servings.

NOTE: For 12 slices of bread, or a whole loaf, use 12 tablespoons butter (1 1/2 sticks) and 4 cloves garlic, but keep the sugar, salt and pepper the same.

VARIATION: To make a cheese version, sprinkle the bread with 1 to 1 1/2 cups of shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar in the final 1 minute of baking time. You also could add 1 to 2 tablespoons minced chives to the butter mixture.