Slow-roasted garlic with thyme

Serves 6
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Plump, sweet and very gentle, the first of the season's garlic arrives with us in early to mid-February. This is my favourite way to eat it, roasted in the oven with a little wine and chicken stock – or water, if you prefer. It is delicious with young goat's curd and grilled bread doused in olive oil.

6 whole heads of new season's garlic
250ml/8fl oz home-made chicken stock
200ml/8fl oz dry white wine
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 fresh bay leaves
A few sprigs of thyme
Approx 240g/8oz goat's curd (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Using a sharp knife, cut the tops off the garlic and place upright in a baking tray. Ladle in the chicken stock (or water) and pour over the wine.

Season generously and tuck in the bay leaves and thyme. Cover with foil and place on the middle shelf of the oven.

Cook for half an hour then remove the foil to allow the garlic to become golden-brown and the liquid to reduce slightly. Once the garlic is tender, remove from the oven and serve on a slice of good-quality, chewy bread, drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil.

Put a little dollop of goat's curd on the side, and spoon the cooking liquid over the garlic. Serve warm but not hot – the flavours will taste better this way.

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