THE BLOG

The Great American Melting Pot

08/29/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I'm not much of a kitchen gadget person -- one-task-wonders make me feel that the American marketing machine is winning -- but every once in awhile I buy myself something for the kitchen that makes me so happy, and makes so much sense, I wonder how I ever lived without it. Most recently, I bought an All-Clad Butter Warmer. It's a gorgeous, stainless-steel miniature saucepan-the scale and design is as simple and perfect as that of a paper clip -- another personal favorite. It's just right for heating a cup of coffee, warming chocolate sauce, and, of course, melting butter.

I've had my butter melter for about ten days and have used it almost as many times -- usually for melting butter, but the truth is I practically make up reasons to break it out. Today the excuse was garlic confit. The garlic here is cooked so low and slow that the radiator heater in my New York apartment -- or the sidewalk on some recent afternoons in Hollywood -- would provide the perfect amount of heat, until it is soft, sweet, and spreadable. You can use the garlic in any way you'd use roasted garlic: toss it with grilled broccolini, spread it on crostini, puree it and mix it into pasta sauces. The added benefit is the roasted garlic oil, which will be delicious drizzled on anything except your breakfast cereal. And most importantly, you have an excuse, in the age of the microwave oven, to essentially save such as thing as an All-Clad Butter Melter from extinction.

Garlic Confit

Put a handful or two of peeled whole garlic cloves in a small saucepan. Ideally this would be a butter melter. Add a pinch of chile flakes and enough olive oil to cover the garlic by 1/2 inch. (In an All-Clad Butter Melting Pot, this is 1/2 cup.) Place the pot over medium-low heat. When the first tiny bubble rises to the surface -- and here I'm not talking about a boiling bubble, but more like the kind of bubble that rises from a flut of champagne -- reduce the heat to low. Continue to cook at this rate, with that tiny bubble rising from time to time at about the rate of week-old champagne (do not let it come to a boil, do not let the garlic brown) for about an hour, or until the garlic will easily spread on a piece of toast, otherwise known as a crostino.