Veteran Move #4: Chopping Garlic for Cooking

Prepping garlic for any dish is an essential skill... all that's needed is a head of garlic and either a sharp knife or a strong garlic press
Prepping garlic for any dish is an essential skill… all that’s needed is a head of garlic and either a sharp knife or a strong garlic press

Chopping garlic, at least in my kitchen, is a fundamental skill. It’s one that took a lot of trial and effort on my part to master. Along the way I learned that a good, strong press and an equally good and SHARP chef’s knife are vital if you want to be successful chopping garlic. When to use the press and when to use the knife depends on the dish but having both handy is an absolute must.

The other key to chopping garlic is a reliable method to peel it. Contained below is my take on peeling garlic which is another key Veteran Move. And then it’s up to you and the recipe.

And, as a bonus Veteran Move, here’s advice how to quickly and easily get rid of that lingering garlic essence on your hands after getting up close and personal with it. This move works with onions and other powerful chopped, minced or generally smashed ingredients.

Start with some nice looking plump garlic cloves. Don't buy soft garlic, it's overripe. I look for a little purple tinge, it has a slightly milder taste and aroma tends to hold its flavour longer even after cooking than white garlic
Start with some nice looking plump garlic cloves. Don’t buy soft garlic, it’s overripe. I look for a little purple tinge, it has a slightly milder taste and aroma tends to hold its flavour longer even after cooking than white garlic
Trim the roots off
Trim the roots off
Use the flat of your chef's knife and press firmly down on the clove until you feel it give a little under the pressure.
Use the flat of your chef’s knife and press firmly down on the clove until you feel it give a little under the pressure.
You'll see the paper cover has come loose and ...
You’ll see the paper cover has come loose and …
...  will easily lift away from the clove
… will easily lift away from the clove
If you're using your garlic press fill the chamber with as many cloves as will fill it (some cooks leave the paper on the clove when using a press... you can simply pull it out of the chamber after pressing the clove. I just find this messy so I pull the paper off first
If you’re using your garlic press fill the chamber with as many cloves as will fill it (some cooks leave the paper on the clove when using a press… you can simply pull it out of the chamber after pressing the clove. I just find this messy so I pull the paper off first
Press firmly (I have actually broken the handles on two presses at this point... choose a stout looking heavy duty model fit to take a beating :)
Press firmly (I have actually broken the handles on two presses at this point… choose a stout looking heavy duty model fit to take a beating 🙂
Scrape the minced garlic into a ramekin ready to add to your recipe when the time is right...
Scrape the minced garlic into a ramekin ready to add to your recipe when the time is right…
Or, skip the press and use you chef's knife to carefully chop your garlic... for most of us amateurs it will not be as finely minced as if you had passed it through a press... I find its a judgement call
Or, skip the press and use you chef’s knife to carefully chop your garlic… for most of us amateurs it will not be as finely minced as if you had passed it through a press… I find its a judgement call but, pressed garlic works very well for a home cook if you’re wanting your sauce to have a perfectly smooth texture… pressed garlic also is the easiest way to maximize garlic flavour in your dish as the finer the mince the more flavour

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