Garlic Basics: Part Two

garlicGarlic is one of  those things that I use all the time…like onions.  Since a lot of the cooking I do has Mediterranean influences, garlic is king in my house.  In Garlic Basics: Part One, I discussed the various forms of garlic found at both farmers markets and grocery stores.  This follow up installment I will discuss the various ways to prepare garlic, including peeling, slicing, and mincing.

Peeling:  Peeling garlic is easy, but ironically, the fresher the garlic, the more difficult it is to peel (the papery skin clings to the clove much more tightly in very fresh garlic).  To peel a clove of garlic (a clove is one of the little lobes found on the head of garlic), simply place it on your cutting board, put the flat side of your knife down on top of it (as if you’re trapping it against the cutting board), and give it a good whack.  The skin should come away from the garlic and you can simply pull it off.  This method is quick and easy, but your clove will get smashed up in the process.  This is fine if you’re planning to mince it up, but if you are looking for whole, unmangled cloves, I would suggest buying a little gadget called, no surprise, a garlic peeler.  This little rubber cylinder can be found at any kitchen store and are inexpensive (I think mine was under $5).  You just place the clove in the tube, and roll it with the flat of your hand.  The peel comes off and a beautiful, whole clove of garlic emerges. 

Slicing:  Slicing is just what it sounds like—simply slice the clove into thin slivers.  I like to remove the little brown end and discard it, but the rest of the clove is fine. Just place it with the flattest side of the clove down on your cutting board and with a sharp knife, slice away!   If there is a green shoot in the center of your clove, I’d suggest removing that since it could make your dish bitter.

Mincing:  Mincing basically means to chop very finely.  There are various methods for doing this.  One is to slice the garlic into pieces, lay them out on your board, and then just rock your knife back and forth all over the slices until they are minced.  When I’m mincing, I like to cut my garlic in the same manner I cut onions…with a series of cuts in three different directions.  Lay your clove (flat side down) on your board, and carefully make a few slices horizontal to the cutting board.  Then, repeat with more cuts vertical to the board (cutting down from the top of the clove down to the board beneath).  I finish by cutting crosswise into a perfect tiny dice. 

Keep in mind that you could also use a garlic press to easily mince your garlic.  I do not own a garlic press (one extra thing to wash), but if you find it difficult to cut something so tiny or just don’t want that garlic smell on your hands, I’d recommend getting one of these little tools.  They are readily available at kitchen stores. 

Garlic is one of the best flavors you can add to a dish—so peel, slice, and mince away!

Click here for more information about Tracy’s Connecticut cooking classes, or to read her The Secret Ingredient Blog.

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One Response to “Garlic Basics: Part Two”

  1. frances Says:

    Finally a complete course in Garlic 101!
    Thanks for explaning it all!!!

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