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This golden, buttery triple garlic bread is the dinner side that deserves to be a star

Making garlic bread at home means you get to choose the bread. Plus, this recipe calls for three kinds of garlic – fresh, roasted and powder – which gives depth to the flavor.  (Tom McCorkle/ For the Washington Post)
Making garlic bread at home means you get to choose the bread. Plus, this recipe calls for three kinds of garlic – fresh, roasted and powder – which gives depth to the flavor. (Tom McCorkle/ For the Washington Post)
By Becky Krystal Washington Post

Putting things into words is my job. But sometimes, I wish I could just step back and let you bask in the glory of a dish. So please take a second to admire this garlic bread.

I’ll wait.

Of course, it would be even better if you could smell it and even better than that if you could taste it. You’re just going to have to take my frustratingly intangible word for it: This is one heck of a recipe.

I have eaten my fair share of frozen Texas toast and foil-wrapped grocery store loaves. They’re fine, they’re garlic bread, I’ll eat them! But let’s forget passable. You deserve great garlic bread, perfect for serving with no-fry eggplant Parm, wine-braised chicken with mushrooms and a big pot of lentil soup. Or anything, really.

My buttery, golden and aromatic triple garlic bread incorporates roasted garlic, fresh garlic and garlic powder. I liked the mix of sweet, sharp and savory that all three bring to the table, but feel free to mix and match or tweak the ratios. All three garlic variations are beaten into softened butter, along with some chopped chives, because you might as well go all in on alliums. And, yes, you’ll end up with a compound butter.

In addition to being absolutely packed with garlic flavor, homemade garlic bread has the advantage of letting you start with an excellent loaf. I like something big with a slightly crisp exterior and pillowy interior (think French or Italian bread). This is something you’re going to want to make and share – or not! – and, naturally, eat warm directly out of the oven. You, too, might find that words just can’t do it justice.

Triple Garlic Bread

If you’ve never treated yourself to the glories of homemade garlic bread, you’re in for a real treat here. This swoon-worthy side tastes, smells and looks better than almost any foil-wrapped specimen from the store. Plus, it’s a cinch to make.

You can roast a head of garlic when you want to start this dish, or do it any time in the few days before when you have the oven turned on for something else. The temperature matters less than making sure the garlic is fully roasted; so as long as the cloves are sweet, soft and caramel-colored, you can just adjust the time as needed.

1 head plus 1 to 2 cloves garlic

Extra-virgin olive oil

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at soft room temperature

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ to ½ teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon minced chives

1 large, good quality loaf French bread (about 1 pound), sliced in half lengthwise, as if you are opening a book

Position racks in the middle and upper third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.

Rub off the loose outer layers of papery peel from the head of garlic, then cut the top quarter off horizontally and discard or save for making vegetable stock. Drizzle the remaining portion of the head with oil. Wrap in a small piece of aluminum foil, place on a small, rimmed baking sheet and roast for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the cloves are very tender and caramel-colored. Unwrap and let cool (leave the oven on), then squeeze out each roasted clove into a medium bowl and discard the skins.

Using a fork, mash the roasted cloves into a smooth paste. Add the softened butter, salt, garlic powder and chives. Grate the fresh garlic cloves directly into the bowl using a rasp-style grater such as a Microplane. (Alternately, mince the garlic with the salt to form a smooth paste before adding to the rest of the ingredients.) Beat the mixture with a wooden spoon until smooth and fully incorporated.

Divide the butter evenly between the two halves of bread and spread evenly to coat. Bake on a large, rimmed baking sheet (middle rack) for 10 to 15 minutes or until the edges of the bread are crisp and golden. The butter will look as if it has been baked into the bread without too many spots that look overly saturated, though a few wetter areas are OK. Transfer the sheet pan to the upper rack, turn the broiler to high and broil until the surface of the bread dries out a bit more and turns golden in spots, 1 to 2 minutes. Watch carefully, as it can burn quickly.

Slice into pieces and serve.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

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