Garlic ice cream would be, thus far, my only experience with a savory ice cream (unless you count the Asian classic Red Bean), so I wanted to get it right. Most of the recipes were identical but used ice cube trays instead of an ice cream maker, which made them inferior. One featured five heads—Heads! Not cloves!—of roasted garlic. But I settled on a recipe that called for five cloves and no sugar.
I wanted to get it right, so I followed the recipe closely. But what the heck does it mean when it says “Let it thicken into a pudding-like consistency until it coats the back of a spoon” but “Don’t let it thicken so much it curdles”? Thinner lines have not been walked by man. On top of that, I wasn’t entirely sure what coating the back of the spoon meant since any liquid seems to do that on first contact with a spoon. Also, I admit wasn’t entirely sure what curdling was, both physically and chemically. Based on the scrambled egg texture when it was actually getting thick, I’m pretty sure I learned what curdling was.
I then strained the mixture, which at this point had one of the foulest odors I’ve ever encountered (short of the shrimp paste I smelled when I took a Thai cooking class or the time I witnessed a lutefisk eating contest). After straining, there remained almost two cups worth of the liquid mixture to chill overnight. The scrambled egg stuff was promptly trashed and soon after taken to the dumpster to distance myself from the stench, which still floated around the apartment for at least one sickening hour before I left for the evening. The smell made me less than sure of this culinary fascination.
Boren and his special lady friend Jamie came over to my stench-free apartment the next day with mango chili and roasted asparagus al parmigiano, nice compliments to my mashed potatoes, store-bought unsweetened apple sauce and—the centerpiece of the evening—garlic ice cream. My guests dolloped small spoonfuls of the g.i.c. onto their mashed potatoes, and, unlike their host, they did so without hesitation. Ponderous chewing nods were quick to follow and the decree that it was like chilled garlic butter without the salt.
And then we tried it on the asparagus. My goodness was that brilliant. It unlocked secret flavors most people don’t realize are contained within those tiny green stalks.
Jamie elaborates: “The garlic ice cream was much milder than I expected, more like a frozen crème fraîche infused with garlic. The garlic was so faint that it didn't hit my palate until after the cream started melting, which was actually wonderful. Even though it had no sugar, the sweetness of the cream really came through and it was best when combined with salty and pungent dishes; I enjoyed it more on the roasted asparagus than I did on the mashed potatoes. I'd love to try it again with the flavor being stronger (and maybe supplemented by another flavor - smoked paprika? Black pepper?), so I could see how it would taste with a milder base (like the mashed potatoes). But it was one of the best asparagus toppings I've ever tried.”
I was the last at the table to try the ice cream solo, with nothing to dull the horror I expected after the cooking stench. But it really wasn’t strong. Nothing I’ll be cooking at my next pot luck, but not a bad experiment.