Nine days into a recent culinary adventure in Europe, I remembered that American food was waiting for me back in New York. Maybe it was the unabashed excess of air-dried beef, bread, dessert, butter, dessert again and wine coming to an end that brought North American fare to mind. All I know is I found myself thinking of Papa John’s pizza — particularly its garlic sauce.
Many men in my life have had an explicit love affair with this substance, so reminiscent of garlic butter, yet so blatantly chemical-impregnated margarine. It even tricks your nose into feeling garlicky effervescence as you swallow. As a result of my college roommates’ devotion to playing Halo 3 on Xbox 360 the first few weeks after it came out, Papa John’s pizza and its sunny yellow sauce were frequent fixtures on our coffee/everything table. I typically declined in favor of something with, for example, vegetables or maybe real garlic. But come the end of the meal, when partially eaten crusts, a pepperoncini or so and a lone shot of garlic-flavored condiment lay unfinished, I would inevitably peel back the foil seal; dip a crust and crunch down.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have eaten the sauce. And it is good. But it’s not very good for you, so here’s a similar concoction that won’t raise your blood pressure and isn’t full of patented flavor-impostors to which I don’t have access. After much experimentation, I present Papas Eric, Ryan, Shewmie, Jason, Geoff and Choi’s knockoff pizza-dipping garlic sauce.
This recipe makes six little containers’ worth:
- Preheat oven to 400 F. Peel away the garlic head’s papery outer layers, leaving the cloves attached and intact, and then slice off the top half inch.
- Rub all over with a little olive oil, then loosely wrap in tinfoil. Bake for 40 minutes. Your kitchen will begin to smell wonderful.
- When the garlic is done, mushy to the touch and slightly golden, remove from oven and let cool. Heat olive oil over low heat in a small pot, and then squeeze the cooled garlic out of its skin right in the pot.
- Add Parmesan, turmeric and cream and whisk vigorously until smooth. Taste for salt and serve with pizza for dipping. Pepperoni and pineapple work particularly well, according to Papa Jason.
It’ll keep covered with plastic wrap in the fridge for up to a week. Add the leftovers to pasta or rice or pour over vegetables before roasting.
Jess Kapadia is a food writer in New York.
Photo by colormepink @Flickr.