Thursday, February 26, 2009

Fresh Garlic 101, and some great easy recipes...

I absolutely love using fresh garlic in what I cook. I used to think that garlic just "grew" in those little jars, you know what I'm talking about. The jar of minced garlic, that sits in your fridge forever. What the heck is a "clove" of garlic? I know, you all know way more than me and probably already know everything I am about to tell you. But humor me! I just learned all about garlic. I never knew there were so many ways to use it!

One raw pressed or minced garlic clove is more powerful than 12 whole cooked cloves. SO, it matters how you prepare garlic in a recipe! For the least-intense flavor of garlic, whole peeled garlic should be used. When I make pasta sauce, the last step is always to add a few whole peeled cloves into the sauce and let simmer for a while. Sliced garlic adds a little more intensity to a recipe. The most intense flavor comes from pressing garlic. Of course, you need a good solid garlic press to get the job done right. The best garlic presses do not require you to peel the clove before pressing it. Of course, Pampered Chef has THE BEST garlic press on the market. ;)

Garlic comes in a "bulb" and needs to be stored in a cool, dry place. Do not put it in the refridgerator. It also needs air circulation, so don't put it in a plastic bag or anything like that. I keep mine in a bowl on the top of my refridgerator. When you are ready to use the bulb for the first time, put it on a countertop and roll it under your palm, applying pressure. You will hear it crackling and feel it breaking apart. This should release the "paper" covering enough for you to take out a few cloves. There, now you're ready to peel and use the garlic. To peel, you can place a knife blade flat overtop of the clove and whack the blade, breaking the peel and making it easy to remove. Or, there are also a number of garlic peelers on the market. Pampered Chef is releasing one March 1. :)

Here are some great recipes using garlic. The first recipe uses whole peeled garlic cloves, the second one uses sliced garlic, and the third one uses pressed garlic. Enjoy!

The Pampered Chef ®
Grilled Chicken Penne al FrescoRecipe

4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes
3 cups uncooked mezze penne pasta
3 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup dry white wine such as Chardonnay (see below for substitution)
1/2 tsp each salt and coarsely ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves, divided
1 oz Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup packed)
2 cups diced grilled chicken breasts
Additional grated fresh Parmesan cheese and coarsely ground black pepper (optional)
Spray Deep Covered Baker with olive oil using Kitchen Spritzer. Slice garlic into baker using Garlic Slicer. Add tomatoes. Cover; microwave on HIGH 4-5 minutes or until tomatoes begin to burst, stirring after 2 minutes. Crush tomatoes using Mix ‘N Chop. Add pasta, broth, wine, salt and black pepper. Return baker to microwave; cover and microwave on HIGH 16-18 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring after 10 minutes. Meanwhile, coarsely chop basil with Chef's Knife. Reserve 2 tbsp for garnish. Grate cheese using Rotary Grater. Carefully remove baker from microwave and remove lid, lifting away from you. Add remaining basil, cheese and chicken to baker; mix well. Garnish with reserved 2 tbsp basil, additional Parmesan cheese and black pepper, if desired.
Yield: 8 servings
Cook's Tip: An additional 3/4 cup chicken broth can be substituted for the wine, if desired. Any tube-shaped pasta requiring 9-11 minutes cook time, such as penne or rigatoni, can be substituted for the mezze penne pasta.

The Pampered Chef ®
Microwave White Chicken Chili Recipe
3 whole heads garlic (about 48 cloves), unpeeled
3/4 tsp salt, divided
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 poblano peppers
1 medium onion
1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
2 tbsp Southwestern Seasoning Mix
2 cans (15.5 oz each) Great Northern beans, drained
1 jar (16 oz) salsa verde

Using (5-in.) Santoku Knife, slice about 1/4 in. off the pointed top of garlic heads to expose cloves. Place garlic cut side up in Classic Batter Bowl. Sprinkle garlic with 1/4 tsp of the salt and drizzle with 2 tbsp of the oil. Cover batter bowl with lid; microwave on HIGH 3 minutes or until garlic is soft. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile, finely dice peppers using Santoku Knife. Chop onion using Food Chopper. Combine peppers and onion in Deep Covered Baker. Trim and finely dice chicken using Boning Knife. Add chicken, seasoning mix, remaining 1 tbsp oil and remaining 1/2 tsp salt to baker; mix well using Master Scraper. Microwave, covered, on HIGH 4 minutes; stir to separate chicken. Cover; microwave an additional 4-6 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Meanwhile, gently squeeze cooled garlic from heads into batter bowl (discard skins); mash using Mix ‘N Masher. Add beans and salsa to batter bowl. Transfer bean mixture to baker; mix well. Microwave, covered, on HIGH 5-7 minutes or until chili is heated through.
Yield: 8 servings (8 cups)

AMAZING Garlic Knots!
1 can refridgerated biscuits
1 stick butter
2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
3 garlic cloves, pressed

In a saute pan over medium heat, melt butter on stove-top. Add pressed garlic. Cut biscuits into quarters with Kitchen Shears, add to butter and toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle Italian Seasoning over mixture. MAKING SURE YOUR PAN IS OVEN-SAFE (all Pampered Chef pans are), place saute pan into 400 degree oven for 8 minutes, or until biscuits are browned and fully cooked.

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