About forty years ago, I read a salad recipe that began as follows : Peel one clove of garlic and spear it on the end of a fork. Rub the inside of a large bowl with the garlic . Prepare the salad and empty it into the bowl . Add vinaigrette and toss . Discard the garlic. ( LOL). That’s how wary Americans were of using garlic .
How different it is today. Recently , we bought a slow cooker . It came complete with a recipe book and one of the recipes was” Chicken with forty cloves of garlic ” We’d seen similar recipes before but this time we decided to try it . It was terrific . The garlic kind of melted into the gravy and the sharp smell that one associates with raw garlic disappeared . The finished dish was rich, complex and savory, not particularly spicy, and the chicken was fork tender. There are recipes galore for this dish on the internet and it’s definitely worth a shot.
We usually cook Indian , Chinese or South East Asian ( Thai , Malaysian, Korean or Vietnamese ) food at home and all these cuisines are liberal in their use of garlic. All these cuisines are gaining in popularity in the U.S and garlic is ( and has been ) a staple of American cooking for some time . Where previously it was associated with certain ethnicities ( Spanish and Italian) it has now become mainstream , at least among urban Americans . From the merest hint of garlic to forty cloves is a big , big change . I suppose it also helps that garlic has been discovered to have certain benefits to health and those who find the smell offensive can stick to Garlique pills and other odor-free forms.
Onions too had been shunned because of the smell but are finding greater acceptance . Raw onions are still a turn off to some and there was an interesting reminder of this on a recent episode of the Food Network show ” Chopped “. In this series , four contestants are given a surprise basket of ingredients which they must use to prepare a dish of their choice. In succession they prepare an appetizer , an entrée and a dessert using their basket of ingredients and anything else they want from the well stocked pantry . The mandatory ingredients are deliberately odd and offer a stern challenge to contestants . In one recent episode , they were asked to make a dessert with hot dogs , among other items !
At the end of each round, one contestant is eliminated until finally there are two contestants are left to compete the dessert round. In the episode that I watched ,one of the contestants used a couple of raw slices of raw onion in his appetizer dish and was excoriated for it by one of the judges who hates onions in the raw . In spite of that , the contestant survived the first round and , in the entrée round , again used raw onions . The same judge went ballistic , lambasting the contestant for using an ingredient after he had been told that it was anathema to him ( the judge) . The contestant defended himself saying that he used the onions because they were an essential part of the dish and later on , he groused in private that the judge should not let his personal dislikes color his judgement. I thought that he was absolutely right and applauded his convictions . I was very pleased that he not only survived but went on to win the contest and $ 10,000. Good for him !!
P.S We’ve found that the cooking times prescribed in slow cooker recipes are too long by far and we usually reduce them by about a third. You might want to check your slow cooker dish a couple of times while it is cooking till you get the time and the degree of doneness just right .