So many recipes start with garlic that it’s hard to imagine life without it. Here are some of our favorite tips for handling garlic from separating cloves and peeling them to cooking it gently to tame its flavor.
Sometimes cloves of garlic separate easily from the head, sometimes they don’t. When they don’t, try this trick: Wedge the dull side of a knife blade in between two cloves and twist it to pry the clove out.
Peeling cloves can be a hassle especially when their papery skins stick to your fingers. When you want to peel a handful of cloves fast, plop then into a jar, put on the lid, and shake the bejesus out of the jar. Dump them out and, like magic, they will be peeled.
When you are looking to finely mince garlic, kosher salt can help. Begin by chopping the garlic, then sprinkle it with a big pinch of kosher salt and keep mincing. The abrasive crystals not only speed the process but also keeps the garlic from sticking to the blade. Want a garlic paste? Holding the knife nearly parallel to the cutting board, scrape the side of the blade over the garlic, mashing the garlic against the board. Use the knife to return the minced garlic to a pile and repeat until it becomes a paste.
As when you mince garlic, grating it releases more aroma and flavor than, say, slicing. A rasp-style grater makes quick work of grating. Simply rub a peeled clove back and forth along the grater and it will quickly become like a paste perfect for adding a garlicky punch to salad dressings and marinades.
If chopping garlic releases its aroma and flavor, it makes sense that leaving the cloves whole keeps it more mild. Add to that low and slow roasting and you get to meet garlic’s sweet side. To roast garlic, peel off the papery outer layer of a whole head then slice the top ½ inch off to expose some of the cloves. Put the head (or heads) in the center of a piece of foil and drizzle with a little olive oil. Gather the foil around the garlic like a pouch and place it in a small baking dish (just in case there’s a leak). Roast at 350°F until the garlic is completely soft and golden brown. Let cool and then enjoy the fun part: squeezing the garlic from the skin. Covered and refrigerated, roasted garlic will last a few days in the fridge. Try some squeezed into mashed potatoes, spread on toasted baguette or a sandwich, or added to a vinaigrette.
If you want to tame garlic’s hot flavor but don’t want to go as sweet as roasting, poaching it in olive oil is your answer. Aside from softening the cloves both texturally and flavor-wise, poaching also leaves you with garlic-flavored oil perfect for drizzling onto just about anything from grilled vegetables to roasted meats. It’s also delicious as the base for a vinaigrette or, paired with a little balsamic vinegar, as a dipping sauce for bread.
To poach garlic, add about 1 cup of peeled cloves to about 3 cups olive oil. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and keep an eye on the pot adjusting the heat as needed as the garlic cooks for about 30 minutes to become soft and golden brown. Remove the cloves with a slotted spoon. Store them in the oil or seperately, but be sure to refrigerate both and they will keep up to a week. Substitute the cloves anywhere you would use fresh garlic but would rather not wake up the next morning with garlic breath. Try them in mashed potatoes, stuffed under the skin of a roast chicken, or mashed with roasted red peppers and goat cheese for an easy and tasty spread for crostini.
Garlic is featured in many Traeger recipes. Here roasted garlic lends is deep, sweet flavor to lemony mashed potatoes in Roasted Garlic, Lemon, and Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes. MInced garlic is used in many rubs and marinades, such as Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Garlic and Herbs and Spicy Shrimp Skewers.
Minced garlic also stars in garlic butters, whether mashed into it or added to melted butter. The fat in the butter carries the galic flavor beautifully in such recipes as Reverse Seared Steak with Garlic Butter, Grilled Lobster with Lemon Garlic Butter, and simple Grilled Corn with Parmesan and Garlic.
And don't forget garlic bread! Try this 5-star Ultimate Basked Garlic Bread for the ultimate in garlic flavor.