Relapse: Garlic January 22, 2012Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Relapse, Vegetables.
Tags: Lunch, Snacks
Relapse: An occasional series where I discuss several ways of preparing an ingredient.
Garlic: enemy of vampires and polite dinner parties alike. It appears that Nero Wolfe is not overly fond of garlic, except in shrimp bordelaise. He sometimes uses a miniscule amount, but in general seems to prefer using onion and other aromatics. Well, Nero Wolfe may well disapprove, but when I was presented with a large bunch of freshly picked garlic, I needed to put it to good use.
Once all the bulbs were washed, it was time to start looking at recipes. To start with, I put some pieces in a muffin tin and drizzled them with olive oil.
I covered the garlic with foil and roasted them in a hot oven for about an hour. This is not a particularly new way of preparing garlic but I really like garlic like this way. The roasting removes the sharpness, and the resulting pieces can be eaten as is, or blended into a paste (useful to add to sausages or stews).
When reading through Fergus Henderson’s Nose to Tail, I was struck by his garlic soup recipe. It had an awful lot of garlic in it but the soup itself seemed that it would be soothing and mild. I began by adding a number of cloves to some chicken stock.
I left this to simmer for about 40 minutes, until the garlic was completely soft. I then removed all the cloves and squished them through a sieve to produce a fine garlic paste.
I added the paste back to the soup, and while it was heading up again, I quickly grilled some stale bread I had sprinkled with a bit of parmesan cheese.
I served the soup by adding pieces of the bread to it, so they absorbed the soup.
As promised, this soup was soothing and satisfying. The garlic produced an almost nutty flavour, which permeated the soup and made it somewhat creamy. As with the roasted garlic, the long cooking time meant the garlic was no longer sharp or strong in taste, allowing many other flavours to come through. I also really enjoyed the addition of the bread which added a nice texture and a bit of saltiness from the parmesan. This is definitely something that I think will become a regular fixture.
Finally, I decided to pickle some garlic. I used a recipe I found online (which I can’t find now!), and started by making a brine with vinegar, sugar and water. I brought this to the boil to dissolve the sugar, and also added the garlic to cook it briefly. I added some chili, fennel and peppercorns to a jar, and poured the brine and the garlic in with the other spices. I added a thin layer of olive oil on the top and left it to pickle.
The recipe I used said the garlic would be done in a couple of days – I ended up leaving mine for about a week and a half. I suppose it depends a bit on how pickled you like your garlic. I pickled mine until they were going a little soft, but were still quite firm inside and held their shapes well. The addition of the sugar meant they had a tangy sweet and sour flavour, which was very nice. I’ve used both the pickled garlic and the brine it pickled in, in salads, stews and so on, as the brine has also taken on a nice garlic flavour.
I think because we add garlic to so many different recipes, it’s easy to forget that it’s a great ingredient in its own right. These recipes certainly put garlic in the centre of the dishes created, and I appreciated learning new ways of preparing garlic.