Garlic can be described as an herb or a vegetable or something else altogether. Anyway you look at it, it is a wonderful tool for adding flavor to nearly any dish. You can roast it, mince it, pickle it, slice it, grill it, smoke it, and more.
I use a lot of garlic. When I was in culinary school, they taught us techniques for peeling raw garlic and making use of the whole bulb, but now that peeled garlic is commercially available, it is my go to, unless I am roasting it.
To roast it, slice the bulb in half horizontally and rub with olive oil and a bit a kosher salt. Then wrap it in aluminum foil, placing it on a baking sheet with a small lip. Place it in a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven and cook for 35-45 minutes. You will start to smell it pretty quickly, but you will know it is done when you can smell the caramelization.
Gently remove the bulb(s) from the foil and either using grill gloves or a kitchen towel, squeeze the garlic out of the bulb. This makes for a great spread on crostini as is or could b incorporated in to a sauce.
Another thing I love to do is make a Lemon Garlic Aioli. Simple and wonderful on everything:
Yield 2 Cups
This is great as a dipping sauce for potatoes or as a sandwich spread. The more garlic the better in my opinion, but if you would prefer less, use less.
2 C Mayonnaise
6-12 Cloves Garlic, peeled
Juice from 1 Lemon
Salt and Pepper to taste
Combine Mayonnaise and Garlic in food processor. Pulse until garlic is finely chopped. Turn food processor on low and slowly add in lemon juice. The consistency should be somewhere between thick and loose, but not either. Turn off processor and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Pulse a couple of times to incorporate and taste. Add more salt and pepper if desired.
This wonderful with oven baked french fries or even fried ones, although I tend to stay away from frying too much as the wife doesn’t like the way it makes the house smell. Lay out the potatoes on an oven safe plate and top with the aioli. Then shaved fresh Parmesan on it. Place the place on a backing sheet and put in 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for 3-5 minutes or until the cheese just starts to curl. It will not melt completely so if you want that gooey cheesy goodness, add some shredded mozzarella cheese prior to shaving the Parm.
I have seen a lot of recipes over the years that call for a minimal amount of garlic. This is on purpose. When writing a recipe you have to appeal to the masses. The recipe author expects to to make it your own. Try it as written and then alter it as you go. If one clove turns into ten, then so be it.
I have the same theory for every ingredient in every recipe, including my own. Try it as written and then make the changes that appeal to your palette. Do not start off changing a recipe before you try it as written, unless you are a seasoned chef and know exactly what you are doing. Even when I started reading cookbooks, I tried the recipe as written and then altered it, usually drastically for my own tastes, sometimes to the point where the original recipe was barely even there anymore.
But garlic can be bitter. It can be sweet, it can be pungent, it can be mild and just have a nuance of a flavor. It depends on the preparation and you personal palette. If someone tell you that you stink of garlic after cooking and/or eating garlic, then you probably don’t need that person in your life.
Bottom line is that garlic can be your friend or it can be your enemy. For instance, if you burn garlic, not blacken, but burn, it will ruin your whole dish and you will have to throw it all out and start over, but that only happens when your heat is too high and/or you are not paying attention, so follow directions for heat level (And alter based on you stove and altitude) and always pay attention while you are cooking. You should never walk away from a burner that is hot, let alone on.