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May 03, 2005

Tips on Garlic:

Garlic is a multi-purpose seasoning. Most people use it incorrectly, and in too large a quantity. Generally, the idea is to use enough to enhance and enrich the recipe without being able to recognize just what it is that makes it so good. Usually it is the “little-bit-o-garlic!”

Also, generally, one should take a clove (the whole “bunch” is, properly, a “fist” of garlic!) and crush it severely, then chop it fine, crushing it again once in a while, until it is, essentially, pureed. Doing it in a blender doesn’t quite cut it. Crushing is necessary. Have to do it by hand, and this is best done with a 6-8 inch chef’s knife. (More on knife technique elsewhere, later.)

Cracked/chopped garlic will give you a less sharp but not a mild result.

On the other hand, when you really want to taste the garlic, use more, or even lots more, if you like it “garlicky.” (Be sure to warn your guest/spouse to have some too, otherwise you might be sleeping in the street.)

On the third hand, there are times when you want to carefully peel it and simmer it whole for certain sauces (some will be included in the recipe section.)

And on the fourth hand, slow roasted, whole garlic is wonderfully mild and can be used as a spread. It imparts a whole different taste to roasts and stews when “popped in” whole. Experiment a little: Inserting uncrushed slivers of garlic into lamb or beef is another classic situation in which you essentially roast the garlic, and again it is quite mild rather than sharp.

On the fifth hand, if you add a whole fist of separated, unpeeled cloves to the pan with a roast you will have wonderfully mild garlic to serve with the roast. Works well with oven baked chicken, etc, as well.

Elephant garlic is usually more mild in the first place.

Store-bought, chopped or minced garlic is handy but a very poor substitute for fresh. If you use it at all, crush it.

Posted by The Curmudgeon at May 3, 2005 03:13 PM