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Using Garlic

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
What is the "rule of thumb" for using garlic? In other words, when do I slice, chop or squeeze garlic? When I make marinara sauce I chop it fine. But other recipes call for slicing and still others have you use a press to squeeze it. Why?
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post #2 of 10

Garlic

Usually there is no rule. It depends on how much garlic flavor you are looking to achieve. The more exposed surface, the more flavor. If you mash it, lots of flavor, put it in whole and not as much flavor, etc. I know that sounds simplistic, but it is what it is. That applys to most aromatics such as herbs, onions and the like.
Hope that helps
Happy kitchen
realistic cook
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the input. I have always wondered and figured this is the place to find out. I appreciate your response.
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post #4 of 10
There are a few other factors for the shape of the garlic, but they're secondary to the flavor issue mentioned above I think.

Consider how the garlic will be cooked.

If it's chopped small, it can't take a long hot saute without burning. So for a tomato sauce, you might start with onions. When they're sweated down, you add minced garlic, but only for about 30 seconds before adding tomato so the garlic doesn't burn.

So for times you need a longer saute time for garlic, you'll see it added in slices where it can cook longer before turning bitter. Similarly for whole garlic. So the classic Chicken with 40 garlic cloves can cook a long time with whole garlic and they use a lot of garlic because when it's cooked whole, it doesn't have the strong garlic flavor.
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #5 of 10
I slice my garlic super thin and kind of infuse the oil at low heat before I add tomatoes for marinara. I also use THINLY sliced garlic for bruschetta; anything else would be too spicy hot.

I mince it for soups. Sometimes I just crush it for broths.

Crush it when cooking beans.

I think what you do with it alters the way the flavor comes out.
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Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - GM
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post #6 of 10
A lot depends, too, on the variety you're using. Some, like California White, have a sharp heat and tend towards bitterness. Others, like Shvelisi, really mellow out when cooked, leaving only that garlic essence behind.

Also, the active ingredients are activated by exposure to air. So, by cutting it you get more garlic taste. The more you cut it, the more this happens. Basically, as Realistic Cook notes, the more surface area exposed the stronger the flavor.

So a lot of it is based on feel and experience, rather than any rules. And personal taste, of course.

Harpua: To achieve that great garlicy flavor without the spicy hotness, try this. Slice the tip off a clove, to create a flat. Then rub the toasted bread with the clove. By doing so, you infuse it with the garlic taste without the heat that sometimes comes from biting into raw garlic.
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #7 of 10
On the whole the more the merrier as far as i'm concerned, but there are occasions when you want the flavour, but not the bite.
So with a salad for instance, you want a hint of garlc, you cut a clove and just rub the inside of the salad bowl with it, then add the dressing
For a garlic dip, just use 1/2 a clove, mashed with salt as too much will actually burn the tongue
For roast chicken Take 5 whole bulbs cut 4 in half and place in and around the bird and patiently peel the last one. cut slits in the flesh and insert the garlic as often as possible. carry on with your usual recipe.
Make sure and eat the sweet garlic when it's cooked and your gravy will be fantabulous
PS. If you slice garlic, you get garlic taste. If you crush garlic, you instantly release the oils and the full flavour. Garlic crushers are great but...Sorry if i'm offending...Girly... Slice and chop your garlic, sprinkle with malden salt, and using the blade of your chefs knife, squash and drag, hard,over and over until you have a paste=crushed garlic
PPS don't forget to calculate the salt used into your recipe
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #8 of 10
Lots of things to say about garlic. I like to eat it raw whenever possible, such as in a nice basil pesto sauce.

I like it braised in red vinegar, to top off a garlic pate made of cream cheese and chopped raw and roasted garlic. Spread on a slice of baquette.

The longer the cooking time, the larger the pieces, as if using in a crock pot.

In a marinara, I always cook the onions until translucent, then add the garlic so it won't burn.

I not so fussy about chopping the garlic evenly, as I tend to like variation in flavor as I eat through a dish. One bite may be milder than another. Spice of life!

And whenever I feel something coming on, like a cold or whatever, I eat tons of garlic. Never fails to keep me feeling better. Can't remember the last time I had a cold or the flu. it's been called the "Russian anti-biotic", although there are some supposedly scientific studies that try to debunk the health factor in garlic. I've also heard that cooking garlic removes much of any health benefit in the form of virus-busting, or anti-biotic properties. Don't know for sure. Just know what works for me.

doc
post #9 of 10
To mellow out the sharp bite of garlic, just cook it in a little water for a couple-three minutes and then use the garlic as you normally would. Works a treat!

shel
post #10 of 10

garlic tips

For many many years now I have used a box grater to do my "mincing" for me. That applies to garlic, onions, anything I want smoothly distributed in my recipe. No salt is needed and it is very fast.
Happy kitchen everyone.
realisticcook
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