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Garlic Goes from Gentle to Gutsy

Change the flavor by changing the cooking method

by Bob Kinkead

fromFine Cooking
Issue 14

Here is a little encyclopedia of garlic that is full of surprises, even for a confirmed garlic lover. Did you know that its skins come in three colors, and that white is the strongest in flavor? Or that the “fresh” garlic in the store is really a month old? It’s been cured--dried and aged--for a month, which prevents the garlic from rotting, develops and strengthens its flavor, and gives the skin its papery feel. Kinkead tells us how to pick a good bulb at the market, where to store it at home (hint: not in the refrigerator!), and what to do to salvage the garlic if it begins to sprout but the cloves are still firm. He teaches you how to break up a garlic bulb with your hand;  how to peel garlic cloves with a chef’s knife; and how to peel several cloves at once using either boiling water or a microwave. Kinkead even teaches you how to chop garlic cloves, and has no doubt which implement is best.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about garlic is this: Its flavor depends on how you cook it. There are five ways to cook with garlic--you can use it raw, sauté it, blanch it, roast it, and use it in an infused oil--and in each, garlic produces a distinct taste and range of flavor. Kinkead describes the flavor of each and also explains how it’s prepared.

You’ll read some amusing things along the way. Learn the identity of “fresh garlic’s evil twins,” how to mask garlic breath, and how to remove the scent of garlic from your hands (as if you would want to). Featured recipes: Caesar Salad Dressing; Catalan Potatoes; and Garlic Roast Chicken.

Photos: Alan Richardson & Ellen Silverman

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