If there’s one ingredient our test kitchen couldn’t function without, it’s garlic. Sure, it’s pungent and sharp-tasting when raw, but garlic mellows and sweetens when it’s cooked, providing a flavorful foundation for dozens of our favorite dishes. (Plus, this time of year garlic is especially useful just in case there's a rogue vampire on the loose...)
The way a clove of garlic is cut influences the flavor and texture of the finished dish. If you’re making a quick-cooking stovetop meal like a Chicken Stir Fry, you’ll want to mince the garlic into very small pieces – the smaller the mince, the faster it cooks, and that rich garlickly flavor gets evenly distributed across the rest of the ingredients. (One quick tip here is to use the side of your knife to carefully smash the garlic flat before you start chopping to make it easier to maneuver.)
For a dish with heavier flavors, like James Beard’s Bucatini with Green Onions and Pancetta, you’ll slice the garlic into straight, even cuts that can stand up against the other strong flavors in the dish.
And sometimes, for a comforting, slow-cooked recipe like our 40 Cloves Garlic Chicken, you can even leave the garlic cloves whole and allow them to soften and sweeten while they cook, infusing the entire dish with a lovely aroma.