All right folks, I’m going to let you in on a secret. This is probably the one recipe that I make which always gets compliments, and I’ve long suspected that it’s the primary reason I get invited back to dinner parties. I have never made this bread and not witnessed it be entirely devoured before the meal is halfway over. Seriously, it is that good.
As you’ve probably noticed, I have a thing for Italian food. Having studied in Florence, my appreciation for Italian cuisine grew exponentially, and I love the use of fresh, seasonal ingredients and simple take on food. Italians don’t make garlic bread like Americans do. For them, it’s a simple piece of toast, rubbed with a piece of raw garlic that accompanies soups. It’s fresh. It’s healthy. And it really showcases the garlic.
But, sometimes. . .well, sometimes you need some good ol’ cheesy “American-style” garlic bread. And that is where this recipe comes in. It’s from America’s Test Kitchen. I haven’t a clue if the recipe is still available online somewhere, but I have made this so many times that I no longer look it up–and I’m fairly certain the measurements are quite different at this point. It’s cheesy. It’s buttery. It’s so bad for you that it’s good. It’s basically the polar opposite of actual Italian garlic bread.
But you know what? Sometimes. . . sometimes I’m ok with that.
I hope this scores you many dinner party invites and provides you endless happiness as you lament the fact that Ben Affleck didn’t receive an Oscar nod for directing Argo (I’m bitter). Happy eating.
Cheesy Garlic Bread
Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen. The original calls for 1 stick of butter and does not use herbs, but I’m my mother’s child and thus feel compelled to cut back where I can/season everything.
- 1, 12-inch loaf of Italian or French bread
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
- 5-6 cloves garlic, grated (You cannot chop or press the garlic–it won’t release enough oil or produce the right texture. Trust me.)
- 1 teaspoon water (I sometimes use up to a tablespoon–it really depends on how dry the garlic is looking while it cooks).
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ pepper
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 to 1½ cups shredded cheese blend (I like Sargento’s low-fat Italian blend, or a mix of Parm, Asiago, and Fontina)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Slice your bread in half horizontally. Line a baking sheet with enough foil to wrap the whole loaf of bread when sandwiched back together. Place the bread on it. Set aside.
- In a small skillet over medium-low heat, melt one tablespoon of butter. While the butter melts, add the teaspoon of water. Swirl to combine.
- Then, add the grated garlic. Use a spatula to stir the garlic. Be careful not to let the garlic burn or brown. You want it to become somewhat straw-colored and sticky–it’ll clump together a bit. This can take anywhere from five to ten minutes. Remove from heat.
- In a small bowl, combine the rest of your butter with the garlic, butter mixture. Add the salt, pepper, and dried herbs. Stir to combine.
- Spread half of the garlic-butter-herb mixture on each half of bread.
- Sandwich together the loaf and wrap in foil.
- Bake in your preheated oven for 15 minutes. Then, remove, unwrap, and open up the loaf. Bake the bread halves buttered side up for ten more minutes–or just until they start to brown.
- After they’ve started to brown, remove from the oven and turn on the broiler. Top with the shredded cheese and broil for 2 to 5 minutes, until the cheese melts and starts to brown.
- To serve: flip one half of bread onto a cutting board, cheese side down. I know this sounds weird, but it’s a great trick from America’s Test Kitchen. The cheese doesn’t slide off the bread this way when you cut. Brilliant, right? Slice into large pieces/slabs and sprinkle with the fresh parsley. Serve warm.
Serves 8 to 10.