Here's a simple recipe that promises to boost the flavor of savory recipes. The slow-roasted infusion of garlic and herbs takes so little effort yet it offers so many possibilities. Use it to saute onions and to coat roasting vegetables. Pan-fry chicken breasts and fish with it. Brush it on grilled slices of bread. Swirl it into hummus or bowls of soup. Heck, you can even drizzle it over popcorn.
Makes 3 cups
The oil can be refrigerated for up to 3 weeks; or longer if you remove the solids.
3 lemons, scrubbed well
Peeled cloves from 1 head garlic (To peel a batch of garlic cloves, bust up a head's worth and let them sit in a bowl of room-temperature water for 30 minutes. The peels will then slip off easily.)
1 small chile pepper (optional)
4 bay leaves
8 sprigs fresh thyme
3 cups olive oil (can be extra-virgin)
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
Use a vegetable peeler to remove the peel of each lemon, with as little white pith as possible, placing the strips in a small ovenproof saucepan or baking dish as you work.
Add the garlic cloves, chile, if using, bay leaves and thyme. Pour in the oil, making sure to add enough so all those components are submerged. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and slow-roast (middle rack) for about 1 1/2 hours.
Uncover and let cool. The oil can be used right away, or transfer it along with the solids to a glass container with a tight-fitting lid.
Story by Bonnie S. Benwick. Benwick has the job most envied among cocktail-party conversations. If they only knew ... Cook with her each week at Dinner in Minutes: washingtonpost.com/recipes.