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To make crostini, roasted slices of baguette are rubbed with fresh garlic. (Credit: John Ross)
To make crostini, roasted slices of baguette are rubbed with fresh garlic. (Credit: John Ross)

In today’s kitchen, garlic is used almost as extensively as salt and pepper, and it comes in every imaginable processed form. I prefer it in the bulbs in which it grew.

Garlic flavors food in many ways. It’s not only how much garlic you use, but how you handle it and whether you use it raw, sautéed, braised or roasted. It also depends on if you peel it, how you cut it or if you cut it and into how many pieces. Here are some examples of the various ways to prepare garlic and dishes in which it can be used.

Aioli Sauce

(finely minced raw garlic)

Add 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic to the bowl of a food processor along with 2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs and 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar. Pulse until smooth, scrape down the sides and blend in 2 egg yolks.

Continue processing and drizzle in 3/4 cup olive oil, beginning slow and then pouring it in a steady stream. It will thicken like mayonnaise.

Drizzle in 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a dash of cayenne pepper.

(This sauce is excellent with grilled fish or as a coating for roasted fish.)

Chicken Saltimbocca
(sliced garlic with sage)

Slice 6 cloves of garlic into thin slices. Heat a sauté pan and add 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the sliced garlic and 12 fresh leaves of sage. Cook at medium heat until the garlic turns golden and the sage crisp. Remove them with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towel-lined plate. Turn off the heat.

Pound 8 thin chicken cutlets between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Place a thin slice of prosciutto ham on 4 of the cutlets along with 2 fresh sage leaves. Place the other 4 cutlets on top and pound them together.

Dredge the cutlets in seasoned flour and reheat the sauté pan. Brown the cutlets on both sides at high heat and remove to a foil-lined sheet pan. Put them into a 250-degree oven.

Turn the heat off of the sauté pan.

Slice 1 package of baby bella mushrooms.

Turn the heat on the sauté pan to medium high and add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Cook the mushrooms and, when brown, add 1/2 cup marsala wine, 1 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper.

Serve over the cutlets and garnish with chopped parsley and the reserved garlic and sage leaves.

Serves 4.

Chicken with 40 Cloves

(braised whole cloves of garlic)

Purchase a 2-pound package of bone-in chicken thighs. Brush them all over with olive oil and season them with 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon ground pepper and 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg.

Place 3 heads of garlic on the cutting board and separate the cloves by pressing down on them with the heel of your hand. Put all of the cloves in a stainless bowl, cover with another stainless bowl and shake as hard as you can for about 2 minutes. Then just remove the peeled cloves. (A few will need peeling with a knife.)

Heat a dutch oven and brown the chicken at high heat, then remove and set aside.

Slice 3 stalks of celery and place them in the bottom of the dutch oven. Put the chicken on top along with the peeled cloves of garlic. Add 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon and 1/4 cup dry vermouth.

Cover the pot with foil, then with its lid to form a very tight cover. Place it in a 375-degree oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Do not disturb during this time.

At service time remove the lid and serve. Accompany this dish with French bread so that you can spread the braised garlic on the bread like butter.

Serves 2-4.

Note: This much-copied recipe originated with James Beard. I have adapted this recipe from his 1974 book “Beard on Food.”

Crostini

(rubbed cloves of garlic)

Slice a baguette into quarter-inch slices. Line a sheet pan with foil and spray lightly with no-stick. Place the baguette slices on the sheet pan and brush them with good-quality olive oil. Roast them in a 400-degree oven for 10 minutes.

Peel three cloves of garlic and cut each in half.

Remove the bread from the oven and, while still hot, rub each slice with the garlic. Eat as is or with toppings to serve as hors d’oeuvres (olives, anchovy, tomato slices, pesto, etc.).

Garlic Rosemary Potato Skins

(roasted garlic)

Scrub 6 large Idaho russet potatoes under cold water and place them on a foil-lined sheet pan.

Cut the tops off 2 heads of garlic and put the heads into a small casserole along with 2 sprigs of rosemary and 1/4 cup olive oil. Cover with foil.

Put the potatoes and the garlic mixture in a 375-degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove the garlic and continue cooking the potatoes for another 20 minutes.

When cooled slightly, squeeze the heads of garlic into a small bowl. Whisk the oil into the bowl and set aside.

Split the potatoes in half lengthwise, then split the halves into thirds. With a small paring knife, cut the potato out of the wedges, leaving 1/4 inch of potato clinging to the skin.

Spoon the garlic-and-oil mixture onto the cut side of the potatoes and place them on a foil-lined sheet pan. Season them with coarse sea salt and ground pepper to taste. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon smoked paprika on top and roast at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.

Makes 36 pieces.

Got garlic? Five savory ways to use it

Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French; sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek; soy sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it good.

Alice May Brock

I pick up the bulb covered in parchment-like skin

And place it on the cutting board.

This is how so many recipes begin

With the heavy, flat side of my chef’s knife I press

To break the cloves apart and the loose skin flies everywhere.

I know why those jars in the produce aisle sell so well

Using the sharp edge of my paring knife I remove the

Tight cover from the shiny cloves.

This elixir of the gods seems to permeate my food

Placing each clove on the board, I cut them in half lengthwise

And remove the inner root with the tip of my knife.

Many eliminate this step, but a purist is concerned

Holding the half-clove with my fingers, I make two

Horizontal cuts, then three vertical cuts.

Sometimes coarse chopping with the chef’s knife is adequate

Turning the clove ninety degrees I cut crosswise at

Close intervals, leaving the tiny squares collecting beneath.

Slide them into the warm olive oil and fill the room with heavenly aroma.

John Ross

John Ross

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