Here we offer a sample from The Garlic Press issue: #47 - page
Tips on Cooking with Garlic
by Ted Jordan Meredith, author of
The Complete Book of Garlic (Timber Press, 2008)
Peeling garlic cloves can seem like an onerous chore, particularly
if you develop a taste for a greater quantity of garlic in your
culinary preparations. Nonetheless, a certain rhythm and efficiency
is soon acquired, and the task becomes quick and automatic.
1. PINCH. If you have a relatively easy peeling clove, and if your
fingers are fairly strong, you can simply pinch the clove between
your finger and thumb, positioning either your finger or thumb
along one of the edges of the edges of the clove. This causes the
skin to buckle and crack and pull away from the flesh. You can then
use your thumbnail to pull away the root end or tip end of the clove
and gain a purchase on the skin to begin separating it from the
2. WHACK. A standard and more effective variation on the theme
calls for placing a clove on a cutting board or other similar surface,
laying the flat of a chef’s knife on top of the clove, then lightly
whacking the flat of the knife with your fist or the palm of your
hand. This easily buckles and cracks the clove skin and separates
it from the flesh. At this point, it is easy to gain a purchase on the
skin and peel it away. This is the method I most frequently use and
3. SMASH. Instead of lightly whacking the flat of a knife blade to
crack the clove skin, you can give it a good slam to smash the clove
flat. Crushing the clove immediately and thoroughly brings the
enzyme alliinase together with alliin to form allicin and other
volatile compounds, releasing the garlic’s tumult of complex
aromatic flavors. At this point, the flesh can be stripped off the skin
and further minced or crushed. Depending on the particular
cultivar, its age, and the stickiness of flesh to skin, the skin can be
removed and discarded with varying degrees of effort. I generally
prefer buckling the skin and removing it prior to smashing.
4. CRUSH. Crushing garlic releases all of the garlic’s aromatic
pungency. It also allows the garlic to be distributed thoroughly and
evenly with other food. Crushing garlic generates the volatile
aromatic flavor elements, and cooking it in oil enhances its
character and helps distribute its flavors for the culinary
preparation. It also is ideal for mixing with a dressing for fresh
lettuce or greens. One can fully smash a clove with the flat of a
chef’s knife, and then quickly mince the smashed flesh with the
knife’s cutting edge. I almost always peel garlic before crushing it.
If salt is part of the preparation, it can be an ally in further crushing
the garlic. Put the crushed garlic in a small bowl. Add salt, and use
the back of a spoon to crush the garlic by using the salt as miniature
grinding particles. This method extracts the juices as well as grinds
and quickly produces a garlic slurry.
5. PRESS. In the marketplace, one can find various tools and
gimmicks for peeling garlic. I do not have much use for them. Once
simple techniques are mastered, there is little need to complicate
the process under the guise of simplifying it. On the other hand, I
frequently use a garlic press if I want crushed garlic rather than
minced garlic. Garlic press manufacturers usually emphasize that
no peeling is necessary. Although this may be true, some waste is
inevitable, and there is often more mess. If you decide to use a
garlic press, get a good one. A garlic press should be well made so
that it can withstand extended use. The plunger should fit with little
gap on the sides and fully extend into the chamber, so that the
garlic does not escape up the sides and is thoroughly forced through
the holes, leaving little wasteful residue at the bottom of the
chamber. The chamber should have many small holes so that the
garlic is thoroughly crushed, but the press also needs to be
compatible with your hand strength. More strength is required to
force garlic through tiny holes, but better handle designs provide
greater leverage and easier gripping. The press should also be easy
to clean. Some form of plastic device with protuberances that match
the holes in the chamber to push out the remaining residue usually
fills this role.
6. CHOP AND MINCE. Chopping and mincing are alternatives to
crushing. Chopped garlic is coarser and in larger bits. Minced
garlic is simply garlic that has been chopped to smaller bits.
Mincing creates more of the aromatic sulfur compounds and is
more flavorful in this regard, but a toothy bite of more coarsely
chopped garlic is good as well. Cooked in oil to a straw or light tan
color, chopped or minced garlic takes on a wonderfully rich, sweet,
nutty character. Chop or mince garlic as you would other foods. No
specialized technique is required. Use a good chef’s knife, or Asian
equivalent, for the purpose. An 8 in. (200 mm) chef’s knife is a
good all around size for the kitchen, and with a bit of practice, one
can make quick work of slicing, chopping, or mincing. One
sometimes sees kitchen cooks using small knives for such
chores---and indeed, with small cutlery, they do become chores.
Paring knives are for paring. Chef’s knives are for chopping and
mincing (and many other tasks as well).
7. WHOLE. Roasted garlic is essentially cooked whole, without
chopping or crushing. It has a mild, sweet, caramelized taste that
has broad appeal. The flavor is simpler, and very much different
than if the garlic had been chopped or crushed prior to cooking.
Roasted garlic is a tasty spread on crusty bread or toast and is even
good in mashed potatoes. There are various methods of roasting
garlic. Here are a few. Remove the outer skins from a head of
garlic, slice off the top of the head so that the clove tips are
exposed. Drizzle the exposed tips with oil, cover in foil and roast
at 350EF for about an hour. As a variation, add about of tablespoon
of water as well as the oil. In the last 15 minutes of cooking,
uncover the garlic and baste with the juices. The heat and cooking
time required will vary depending on the size of the heads and your
preferences. Dry roasting individual cloves in a fry pan is another
approach that yields garlic that is more toasty and toothy and less
caramelized and pasty. Place unpeeled cloves in a skillet and toss
and turn periodically for about 8 to 12 minutes until the cloves
skins have browned. Vary the time and browning according to the
size of the cloves and your preference.
The Garlic Press is the newsletter of the Garlic Seed Foundation and
has been published since 1987.
Subscription to The Garlic Press is included with membership
in the Garlic Seed Foundation.
In each issue we try and cover topics on growing, eating, botany, medicine,
and history laced with some culture and humor. We welcome member submissions.
Back issues are bound and available by
mail or at festivals.