Potato and Rosemary Foccacia with (or without) Black Garlic

Have you ever heard of black garlic?  I hadn’t until last week, when I happened across a small new bin tucked in with the mushrooms at my local co-op.  The sign said “fermented black garlic.”  What?  The employees in the produce section were enthusiastic in recommending it but vague about exactly what it was.  It looked like garlic, but was slightly collapsed and shrunken, and smelled like a sweet, lightly garlic-flavored soy sauce.  It smelled good.  Into my basket it went. Later I found that wikipedia link above and determined that I had purchased either a traditional Asian ingredient or a new-fangled food entrepreneur’s invention from California, or maybe some combination (see here for the California producer’s description of how the “magic” fermentation process occurs “behind the closed doors of our patented machine”).  Apparently this stuff is all umami and antioxidants and a darling of the food cognoscenti, of which group I am not a member, so that explains why I had never heard of it.

Finding a new vegetable is a big deal for a serious eater.  A new taste experience on the horizon!  I started researching how to make the most of my intriguing head of garlic.  In the end, I didn’t find a recipe that called to me, so I adapted a potato and rosemary focaccia recipe from Food and Wine, which had in turn adapted it from a Daniel Boulud recipe.

I made two medium-sized focaccias, and I used half a head of black garlic to flavor one of them.  I roasted thinly-sliced potatoes with olive oil, rosemary, and a couple of minced cloves of black garlic, then I layered more sliced cloves of black garlic onto the potato-topped bread before baking it.  I was a little worried that I might have overdone it with all that garlic.  (The other focaccia was topped only with rosemary-roasted potato slices as a delicious control group.)So hey, it’s good bread.  But the garlic flavor is quite mild, and in my opinion the black garlic’s flavor, at least as I prepared it, doesn’t live up to the bold promise of its alluring scent and striking appearance.  But I like strong flavors, and the unexpectedly delicate garlic flavor may be a plus in your book rather than a disappointment.  In any case, the midnight-black cloves certainly lend dramatic flair.

Here’s the important question: what should I do with the remaining cloves of black garlic?  Have you used it in a preparation that you liked?  Do you have some off-the-wall inspiration to share?  I’ll give it another go.

Potato and Rosemary Foccacia with (or without) Black Garlic: In a mixer or large bowl, combine 2 1/2 tsp. yeast and 2 Tb. warm water to moisten the yeast.  Add 4 1/4 c. bread flour, 1/3 c. olive oil, 1 Tb. sugar, 2 tsp. salt, and 2 c. minus 2 Tb. warm water.  Knead or mix with dough hook for about 10 minutes until a soft dough forms, adding more flour as needed.  Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour.

Slice a pound of Yukon Gold potatoes thinly (very thinly if you want crispy potatoes on top of your bread; about 1/8″ for slightly more chewy slices).  Toss potatoes with 1/3 c. olive oil, 2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary, and 2 cloves black garlic (optional).  Line each of two baking sheets with a single layer of potato slices, reserving the oil left over in the bowl.  Roast at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, until tender.  Transfer potatoes to a bowl and keep those oily baking sheets handy.

Punch down the dough, divide it in two (or into 12 pieces to make rolls), and transfer to the oily baking sheets you just used for the potatoes.  Use your fingertips to press the dough into the shape you want.  Brush dough with the remaining oil from the potatoes and set aside to rise again until nearly doubled, about another hour.

Line the breads with potato slices and top with additional slices of black garlic (optional).  Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, shifting the pans halfway through, until the bread is golden around the edges and on the bottom.  Cool on a rack.


29 thoughts on “Potato and Rosemary Foccacia with (or without) Black Garlic

    1. emmycooks Post author

      Let me know what you learn in your experiment, I still have more to use up. :) I wasn’t really thinking about the delicacy of a fermented product; maybe I killed all the excitement by cooking it!

  1. StefanGourmet

    The first thing that comes to mind is to make garlic soup, although I’ve never made that myself yet and half a head of garlic won’t make a lot of soup.

    Or what about pesto or tapenade? Since the black garlic flavor is mild, you could use more garlic than usual and make that the main ingredient. Would be nice served over home-made taglierini (very thin noodles, spaghettini size).

  2. alwaysaddmorebutter

    I have made that foccacia recipe from Food & Wine and really liked it so this definitely intrigues me. I’ve also never heard of black garlic but I’d be willing to give any kind of garlic a try for sure. I’m interested to see what else you do with it!

    1. emmycooks Post author

      The bread was great! And it would be great even without the extra step of roasting the potatoes for the top, although the crisp contrast is kinda nice and fancy. :)

  3. frugalfeeding

    Sounds delicious. I’ve heard of black garlic but have never come across it – I shall have to seek it out. It’ always appealed to me for being different.

  4. musingmar

    I’m afraid I don’t have any suggestions for the rest of your black garlic as I’ve never used it. And, like you, I’m not one of the cognoscenti, pushing the boundaries of what we expect to see on the plate. It’s always good though to discover and try something new. I love the idea of potatoes, garlic and rosemary on focaccia, regardless of the type of garlic!

  5. Hannah

    I’m with StephanGourmet – I think some sort of a sauce, where you can keep it raw or close to raw, might preserve the flavor that you are sensing could be there. I would try it over fish. Maybe something to heighten the sweetness, a la a very (black) garlicky teriyaki-type thing. You could double down on the sauce – marinate, and then add more uncooked marinade as a topping. Might also work with straight roasted veggies? I have seen the black garlic but have not tried it – but your description is intriguing. Curious to see what happen!

    1. emmycooks Post author

      I agree about trying it raw. I think teriyaki sauce might mask the flavor, but maybe I’ll try pounding it with some salt, mixing in olive oil, and smearing that on a piece of roasted halibut. Good call about the fish combo!

  6. debbrunson

    I haven’t run across black garlic yet, but I really appreciate all the new info that you gave! It sounds intriguing, and I think you treated it well, so it’s a bit disappointing, perhaps, that it didn’t ‘wow’ more.
    But your bread looks completely perfect… :D

  7. filingawaycupcakes

    Thank you sooooo much for using black garlic! I love it and no one ever posts recipes that use it. Let alone non Asian recipes (which I don’t mind, just need diversity). Such a great idea!

  8. baconbiscuit212

    I’ve heard of black garlic too but have never played around with it.

    Focaccia looks good though. The black garlic kind of looks like black truffle chunks… and I just read something about how the taste is kind of truffle-y. Maybe use it as a substitute for black truffles? In risotto?

    I got the idea from the Mikuni people who were peddling black garlic on Gilt.


    I love how you made a control bread! Yeah!

    1. emmycooks Post author

      It IS absolutely gorgeous. I think I’d need a whole lot to flavor a pot of risotto, though! It actually just occurred to me to write and ask the black garlic people what THEY recommend to show off its flavor–I’ll let you know what I hear back!

  9. Desi Chick

    I had seen it at the local farmer’s market but didn’t get a chance to buy it because I was side tracked by other “shiny” vegetables. Thanks for all the new information!

      1. Desi Chick

        Salt Lake City, Utah. We have several Farmer’s Markets but there is one giant one in the downtown area that has EVERYTHING and things I have never seen before. Funky vegetables, funky people, cooked food, crafts, live music. It’s amazing. You have to get there super early for the really good stuff. There was this one booth with a ton of different types of garlic. They had ramps, elephant garlic, pre-roasted garlic, garlic in oils, these long skinny garlic I’d never seen before and this black garlic.

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