Serves 4

Smoked garlic started off as a novelty at food fairs but by now you've probably seen the golden-brown bulbs in supermarkets, greengrocers and delicatessens, and wondered what you're supposed to do with them. Me too. They smell delicious and for a long time I'd buy them for the hell of it, but I always used to end up bunging them out a month later.

Smoked garlic started off as a novelty at food fairs but by now you've probably seen the golden-brown bulbs in supermarkets, greengrocers and delicatessens, and wondered what you're supposed to do with them. Me too. They smell delicious and for a long time I'd buy them for the hell of it, but I always used to end up bunging them out a month later.

In fact you can do with them whatever you'd normally do with unsmoked garlic. Try dropping a clove into lamb or poultry gravy at the last minute or just bake and serve a whole bulb halved with, say, a Barnsley chop. Next I'm going to try mixing them with butter for a smoky chicken Kiev.

4 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1tbsp vegetable or corn oil
1tsp brown sugar
A good knob of butter
1tsp chopped thyme leaves
2tsp flour
1/2tsp tomato purée
60ml red wine
2 litres hot beef stock (good quality stock cubes will do)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

for the smoked garlic toasts

4 slices of good quality crusty bread
A generous amount of butter, softened
1 bulb of smoked garlic
1tbsp freshly grated Parmesan

In a thick-bottomed saucepan gently cook the onions in the vegetable oil with a lid on for 4-5 minutes until soft, stirring every so often. Remove the lid, turn the heat up and add the sugar and butter. Continue cooking and stirring for another 5 minutes or so until the onions are a golden brown. Add the thyme, flour and tomato purée and stir on a low heat for another couple of minutes. Gradually add the red wine and beef stock, stirring to avoid lumps forming. Lightly season and simmer very gently for 1 hour, skimming occasionally.

Meanwhile pre-heat the oven to 200°C/ gas mark 6. Wrap the garlic in foil and bake for 45-50 minutes. Remove from the oven, cut the bulb in half and scoop out the flesh of the garlic with a teaspoon. Mix it with the softened butter and Parmesan in a bowl. Toast the bread on both sides under a hot grill then spread it with the garlic mixture. Serve the toasts separately or floating on the hot soup.

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