Smoky Annatto Oil, Garlic Oil, Roasted Garlic, and more

I keep making references to my annatto oil, but I’ve never fully written out the recipe. I’ve begun using this oil in almost everything as a replacement for plain olive oil. It’s particularly good with beef because of the smoky cumin & paprika flavors, but I’ve also used it on chicken and fish with good results. The resulting oil should be a reddish amber color.

Herb-infused oils are a great way to add flavor without adding carbs or calories. Flavored oils lend a richer, deeper flavor to your foods, so yours meals are more satisfying even if you cut back on portion sizes.

Smoky Annatto Oil
4 cups olive oil
8-10 cloves roasted or raw garlic (see note at bottom)
2 tbsp annatto seeds
2 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp Indian cumin
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

In a medium pot or saucepan, bring olive oil to medium heat. Add garlic & all spices to hot oil. If after a few minutes you still hear a frying/bubbling sound, reduce the heat. The spices will need to steep in the oil for about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. If the temperature is too high, you’ll burn the garlic or the dried spices and end up with bitter oil.

After approx. 30 minutes, remove from heat and set aside to cool. When cooled, strain the oil to remove the garlic cloves & spices. (Alternatively, you can leave them in for aesthetics. I take them out so the oil dispenser won’t clog.)

Garlic Oil
To make garlic oil, repeat the same process above with 2-3 times as much garlic and without all of the spices.

The key is to make flavored oils in large batches. The process is always the same. Experiment with your own favorite spices. Added peppers, lemon zest, orange zest… Anything you like! Just be sure beforehand that you have a container in which to store the oil. The annatto oil will stain plastic, so glass bottles are best.

Roasted Garlic
Some people are intimidated by fresh garlic. If you don’t like peeling the paper away and mincing fresh garlic, use my cheat method. I take a full head of garlic, cut it in half horizontally, and drizzle it with a little olive oil. Wrap the whole thing in foil and pop it into the oven for an hour at 400º. Roasting makes the garlic sweet and mild, and you can roast a new head every time you fire up the oven or roast a whole bunch at the same time and store the results in the fridge.

Once the now-roasted garlic has cooled, open up your foil packet and prepare to get your hands dirty. The easiest extraction method is to just squeeze the paper side and push the garlic out of the cut side. I keep a big tub of roasted garlic in the fridge at all times.

To get the garlic smell off your hands when you’re done, rub them on a clean stainless steel spoon under running water. Something about the steel breaks the garlic’s chemical bonds. If you buy the fancy “garlic stone” at a kitchen gadget shop, you’re paying big bucks for a lump of stainless steel.