Tie the Knot
Garlic Appetizers like garlic knots, garlic bread, garlic breadsticks are menu favorites
Next to pizza, garlic appetizers are one of the top selling items at pizzerias. They are simple to make, and even if you don’t have excess dough to use up, you most likely have all of the ingredients necessary already prepped and ready to go.
The type of garlic app — knots, bread, sticks and rolls — you choose to serve at your shop depends a lot on what type of restaurant it is and the dough you make. If you consistently have dough leftover at the end of the night, garlic knots might be a great way to make use of it. On the other hand, if you have an oven with a steam element and make your own bread/rolls, garlic bread is a no brainer. If you have more of a sit-down restaurant and want something to put on the table while people order drinks and food, garlic sticks might be just the thing you’re looking for.
Once you’ve decided on what you want to make, there are lots of different ways you can go about it. The first component to think about, and I would argue one of the more important, is your base. What dough you will use, how you proof it, what shape to cut it into and how much dough to use are all things to take into consideration. Another important aspect is how you cook it: bake or fry. If you’re making garlic bread, it goes without saying that you should proof your rolls and bake them off before turning them into the actual garlic bread.
Knots can be a little trickier. Since a lot of the time, they are baked to order, you want to make sure that they are cooked all the way through. That being said, everyone knows how chaotic it can get on a Friday night with a double stacked ticket line and an oven full of pizzas. So here are a few things to help make this appetizer an easy and delicious option for your menu:
- Par-bake before service. This way the knots are almost fully baked and only need a few extra minutes in the oven before being tossed in garlic, fat and other toppings.
- Make smaller knots. smaller knots mean less cooking time.
- Turn down the heat. keep one deck of your oven at a lower temperature and bake the knots in that deck for a longer period of time. For example: we have a three deck oven and we keep the top two at 650 F for our NY style pies and the bottom at 575 F for our Sicilians, grinders, slices, roasted veggie sides and garlic rolls.
- Put a tent on it. Tent some foil over your rolls as they go in the oven to trap and circulate the heat, removing at the end to crisp up the knots.
- Master the tie. Melissa Rickman, from Wholly Stromboli says: “If tied correctly, you will have a little well in the center of our knots which holds a little bit of garlic butter sauce and the tails are my favorite part!”
Once you have your perfectly proofed and cooked knots, rolls or sticks, it’s all about getting the fat and garlic just right to create your ideal flavor profile. In other words, what are you going to coat your rolls in and are there any additional toppings such as cheese or fresh herbs that you want to add? If you are making garlic bread, all of the toppings will be slathered in the middle of the roll instead of tossed and melted on top. Of course, you know there will be garlic, fat and likely cheese, but there are a lot of different routes you can go with these components.
- Garlic. Fresh, roasted, granulated, powdered, fried or dried.
- Fat. Extra virgin olive oil, vegetable oil, butter or even lard.
- Cheese. Parmesan, Pecorino, melted mozzarella, goat cheese, gorgonzola (the options are really endless).
- Herbs, spices, chiles or veggies. Dried, fresh, pickled, cooked or raw.
After you’ve decided on your toppings, you can pick what to dunk them in. You can go with the classic marinara or get more creative with sauces like honey, pesto or even ranch.
As you can see, there are so many different ways to put your own twist on a seemingly basic item and not every garlic appetizer is created equal. Spencer White, from Redeemer Pizzeria, says that garlic knots are one of their best-selling items. They have become so popular that their staff and regulars have nicknamed them “knotty Bois.” The secret to their success? “We take our dough and fold it around a piece of mozzarella and deep-fry that. When they come out of the fryer they are light and airy like beignets with melted cheese in the middle. We then toss them in garlic butter, Pecorino cheese and chopped parsley,” says White.
Aside from being served as a straight up appetizer, garlic knots have other creative uses. One example is to line one side of a pizza with knots. Rickman puts on a Garlic Knot Golf Tournament that benefits charity every year. Instead of golf balls, garlic knots are hit in their place.
Whether you make your garlic appetizers with straight up garlic, fat and cheese or add a spunky twist to them, they are great for rounding out your menu and boosting your sales.
Calabrese Chile Garlic Knots
Get the Calabrese Chile Garlic Knots recipe.
Audrey Kelly owns Audrey Jane’s Pizza Garage in Boulder, Colorado.