Wild for garlic. Tips for cooking with this aromatic bulb.

My friend, Jenny, is allergic to all members of the allium family and, while there are many worse afflictions, I don't envy her having this particular intolerance.
 
 Imagine a simple potato soup without onions or leeks. Or, perhaps worse, the countless dishes she can never eat because of a few cloves of garlic – the foundation upon which so much cooking is based. The pungent strength of garlic is mythological. Whenever I accidentally bite into a raw clove, I understand the vampire's aversion. That potency can be delicious if used in small quantities in an aioli or even a salad dressing. Too much can be overwhelming, leaving you with little else to taste – and your friends with little else to smell.
 
The other way to temper garlic's power is through cooking. Much like an onion's harshness is soothed by heat, garlic's taste is transformed in the heat of the oven to become almost unbelievably sweet. One of my favourite ways to roast a chicken is to place about 20 separate, unpeeled cloves into the carcass. When the chicken is ready, the garlic will be golden, sticky and delightfully sweet.
 
When cooking like this, it's important that the cloves are unpeeled, as when they are peeled, they can dry out and burn. As anyone who hasn't paid attention when cooking garlic can tell you, burnt garlic is unpleasant and has an acrid bitterness.
 
The more you chop garlic, the stronger the garlicky taste. That's why, in recipes, I often call for the garlic to be mashed or finely grated. When you grate it on a fine grater, such as a Microplane (see Rachel Recommends, opposite), it really gets the most flavour out of the garlic you're using.
 
The summer spinach recipe, opposite, comes from my husband's uncle, Rory O'Connell, who was head chef at Ballymaloe House for years. This recipe is from his wonderful book, Master It, which, last year, was awarded the prestigious Andre Simon book award. Master It is published by 4th Estate.
 
Rachel recommends
 
One of the useful tools I have in the kitchen is a good grater. I like them to be strong and sharp. They take all of the work out of grating, meaning you can make short work out of grating, meaning you can make short work of garlic.
 
Microplane’s graters are very sharp and they do a good range of sizes for when you need finer or coarser grating. They are available in cookware shops and in supermarkets.
 

Garlic Recipes: 

 

Shaneod May 04, 2014 News