Eat The Garlic

Eat The Garlic



your breath will be amazing lol

Almost everything I cook begins the same way: Take out a head of
garlic, separate the cloves, and begin peeling, trimming, and
chopping. From there, ninety-five percent of the time, its job is
to help accentuate the flavors of something else: vegetables,
seafood, tofu, beans, pasta. Garlic is a key ingredient in the
flavor bases for most world cuisines, and yet few people treat it
as anything more than a spice, or an aromatic. That should change.
Every recipe this week will destroy your breath and create a
difficult predicament for your loved ones, who will be
simultaneously impressed by your cooking and very turned off by
your aromatics.

There are two main types of garlic: hard-neck and soft-neck.
Hard-neck can typically only be found at farmers markets; like its
name suggests, it has a long, hard stem, and is very expensive. It
has fewer, but larger, cloves, and also has a slightly more
intense, complex flavor. Soft-neck garlic is more common, more
inexpensive, and more mild in flavor. Honestly, I tend to buy
hard-neck garlic once in the springtime and think “huh tastes like
garlic” and then go back to not spending like four dollars for a
single head of garlic. (Oh, and there’s black garlic, which is a
fermented garlic. It’s tasty but not a raw ingredient so we will
ignore it today. Garlic scapes are the young necks of the hard-neck
garlic variety, but they won’t be available for another few months
so we’ll set them aside for another day.)

You should buy garlic by the head, which is the name for the
entire bulb of garlic. The head contains several cloves, each
wrapped in several layers of unbelievably irritating papery skin.
When buying, give them a squeeze: the cloves should have no give at
all, should be very firm and hard and have no brown spots on them.
If they’re soft, they’ve gone bad. In terms of size, if you get a
head with large cloves, you’ll be doing less peeling to get the
same amount of garlic by weight.

I think people sometimes avoid garlic (and maybe cooking
altogether!) because preparing it is sort of a pain. Here’s how to
do it (garlic, anyway): Grab an entire head of garlic and hold it
in both hands over the trash can. Using your thumbs, push the skin
from the stem downwards; lots of the drier outer layers should fly
off into the garbage. When it seems like you’ve gotten all the skin
off that will come off by that method, break the head into

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Place a clove flat-side down on a cutting board. Place the
broad, flat side of a knife on the top of the clove, and smack it
with the heel of your hand to lightly crush the clove. You don’t
want to smash it to bits; the goal is to keep the clove roughly
clove-shaped, but to crush it enough that the rest of the skin will
easily slip off. Then trim off the root end, and it’s ready to use.
(You can skip buying the pre-peeled cloves of garlic that come in
plastic containers in the produce chiller at the grocery store; I
think they taste a little artificial and stale. That said, that tub
has its uses.)

If you’re mincing garlic, use a knife. Do not use a garlic
press. Do NOT use a garlic press. They are all garbage, even the
good ones. They squeeze all the juice out of the clove of garlic,
which is just lost flavor, and there’s a huge amount of waste in
the vast majority of presses; you know how you squeeze a garlic
press and there’s, like, two-thirds of the clove left behind in the
chamber? That’s real garlic that you’re wasting. Use a knife. If
you think your knife skills are so bad that it takes forever to
mince garlic, here’s a solution: Keep using the god damn knife
until you’re good with it. You eat food three, maybe four times a
day. Why do you think being good with a knife is a skill that you
don’t need?

Anyway. Garlic is extremely strong in its raw form, spicy and
aggressive, which has its uses, but they are few, to be honest. The
longer you cook garlic, the more mild it becomes, and long and slow
cooking turns garlic into a mild enough flavor that it can be the
star of the show. Here are some recipes for that!

Garlic Soup

Shopping list: Container of peeled garlic cloves, leeks,
dried chile flakes, chicken stock, olive oil, eggs, bread, bay
leaves, chives, lemon

This is one of those times when buying pre-peeled garlic is
fine; you’re using so much garlic that I can’t in good conscience
demand that anyone actually peel them all. (I mean, I could, but.)
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small baking tray—a Pyrex is
perfect for this—toss in about forty-five or fifty cloves of garlic
(I know!) and cover in olive oil. This will take a lot of olive
oil. That’s okay. Put it in the oven and roast until the cloves are
completely soft, about forty-five minutes. Using a spider, strain
out the garlic cloves, reserving the oil; that oil is GOLD, you
will use some of it later in this recipe but the rest of it you
should keep in a bottle for pouring over pastas or breads or pretty
much anything else.

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Slice your bread into crouton-sized cubes. Throw them in a big
bowl and drizzle some garlic oil over them while tossing. Then lay
them out on a baking sheet, making sure they have space between
them, and put them in the oven at 350 for maybe twenty minutes,
until crispy and croutoned.

In a large soup pot or dutch oven over low heat, pour in a touch
of the garlic oil and saute a chopped leek and a pinch of chile
flakes. When soft, add in all your roasted garlic and pour in
enough chicken stock to cover. Heat for a little while to let the
flavors meld, then blend; an immersion blender is best for this.
Throw in a couple bay leaves, cover, and cook for another thirty
minutes or so. Season to taste with salt and a squeeze of

Poach an egg or two.

To serve: Pick out the bay leaves and discard. Pour soup into a
bowl. Top with a poached egg, some chopped chives, and some
croutons. (Note: some people add heavy cream to this. I do not.
Fuck heavy cream. Some other people thicken it with a raw beaten
egg in the style of an avgolemono. I have never tried this but it
seems like a good idea. If you try it, let me know how it

Garlic Chips

Shopping list: Garlic, olive oil, salt if you’re a heathen
and don’t have any salt?

Peel a whole mess of garlic. Like a whole head’s worth. Slice
off the root end and then slice them into thin circles (or ovals, I
guess? Garlic isn’t a perfect cylinder). Put a pan over low heat
and pour in a bunch of olive oil. Toss in all the garlic slices and
watch them VERY. CAREFULLY. They will burn quickly. When they’re
golden brown and a little crispy, they’re done. Remove (reserving
the oil, which, again, is delicious) and let them drain on a paper
towel for a minute or two. Use them pretty much anywhere you’d use
croutons or bacon bits or dried chile flakes: in salads or popcorn,
on soups or pizza or meats, if you eat meats, why not.

Very Good Spicy Garlic

Shopping list: Garlic, aluminum foil, olive oil, butter, a
baguette, fresh serrano or jalapeño chile, dried oregano

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First step: roast some garlic. Pre-heat your oven to 350. Take a
whole head of garlic and slice off the stem. This is hard to
explain? Like, you want to slice off the top of each clove of
garlic but keep all the cloves attached to the root end. It should
like this
. Tear off a square of aluminum foil and set the head
of garlic right in the middle of it. Then kind of gather up the
foil around the garlic, making a little container for it. When it
like this
, pour in a glug of olive oil over the cut side, then
continue to gather up the excess foil and completely encase the
garlic. (I usually finish with a nice twist of the foil on top,
like a replacement stem for the garlic that can also be used as a
handle.) Stick the garlic right on the oven rack, don’t bother with
a tray. Roast for about forty-five minutes or until soft.

When it’s done, each individual clove of garlic will be, like,
encased in its oily little paper shell. Pop each of them out, and
put in a bowl with some room-temp butter; the garlic to butter
ratio should be about 3:2. Mash the butter and garlic together and
sprinkle in some dried oregano, forming a kind of gross-looking

Slice your baguette in half length-wise. I mean, slice it
however you want. I don’t really care. I do it lengthwise. Spread
your roasted-garlic butter on it like you’d spread cream cheese on
a bagel. Chop up your chile, discarding the seeds, really finely,
and sprinkle some chiles over the top. Sprinkle some salt over the
top too. Bake at 400 degrees for maybe ten minutes, until the bread
is crispy and your house smells incredible. Top with garlic chips,
if desired.

I won’t argue that it’s not a pain to prepare garlic, even if
you are an asshole who cooks fairly often and insists as a result
that he has some kind of expertise on the subject. It’s kind of a
pain. But, like, it’s garlic? It’s so delicious that even if it was
harder to prepare than it is, I’d keep doubling and tripling the
amount of garlic every recipe calls for. And so it is worth the
toxic deathbreath to embrace garlic and make it the star of the
show. But maybe wait until you’re very comfortable with your
significant other before whipping out a garlic soup.

Photo by Isabel


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