Christopher Ranch’s California Garlic Blog

It’s no mystery that fresh garlic is one of the most popular, versatile ingredients ever. What remains relatively unknown, however, are the distinct flavor, quality and health differences associated with varying garlic varieties. Christopher Ranch, a family farm in Gilroy, Calif., grows a California heirloom garlic that is a leader in each category. All Garlic Is Not Created Equal. We’ll show you why.

Fresh Garlic Won’t Bite You

shrimpI’m typically not a fan of things that bite – whether it’s a dog, a cat, a teething child, horse, etc.
One bite I don’t mind, however, is that of fresh, California-grown garlic.
Many share my love for the robust taste afforded by fresh garlic, but for those who don’t, the complaint I often hear is – “The taste of garlic is too potent – it bites.”

This might be true, but like any great calamity, it can be remedied.

Two remedies for the “garlic-too-potent grievance,” include:
1.) Make sure you’re using California-grown garlic, rather than Chinese garlic.
California garlic is characterized by its smooth, nutty, bold flavor, while Chinese garlic typically emits more of a hot, bitter taste that can leave a burning sensation in the mouth.
2.) Try cooking with fresh garlic using a technique that tempers fresh garlic’s flair, such as roasting, poaching, blanching, sautéing or caramelizing. These techniques involve an array of simple tasks, including cooking garlic in extra-virgin olive oil, butter and/or Vermouth; baking garlic in olive oil; shocking the garlic (quickly switching it from boiling to iced water); boiling garlic and then sautéing and others.
For further details on and recipes utilizing these procedures, I suggest visiting Serious Eats, Chowhound or Epicurious.

Below are a couple of simple and delicious recipes that incorporate these flavor-mellowing techniques. Guaranteed to have you salivating for fresh garlic:

1.) Shrimp and Sweet Garlic Cloves With Cilantro and Lime (shown above and created by Dave Schy of New Taste Journal)

Serves: 3

Ingredients:

2 heads fresh California-grown garlic
1 lb. shrimp – peel and devein
1 pinch salt, oregano, crushed red pepper
2 tbsp. cilantro – chopped
1 tbsp. lime juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (you will not use all of the oil in this recipe)

Preparation:
Break up two heads of garlic; don’t peel. Place garlic into a pot and boil for about 8-10 minutes – or until garlic is soft, but not mushy. Strain garlic from pot and let cool. When garlic is cool, peel it from the skin.

Place olive oil into a pan. Add garlic and cook over medium heat (don’t cook over high heat, as garlic will taste burnt), stirring from time to time. This process will take about 5 minutes.

While garlic is cooking, you can also tilt the pan for a few seconds to submerge the garlic in the hot oil. Remove the garlic and oil from the pan when the garlic is lightly browned. Place into a small bowl and reserve, leaving 1 tablespoon of oil in the pan.

Leave the pan on medium heat and add the shrimp. It is best to lay the shrimp into the pan one by one, leaving enough room between shrimp, so they cook evenly. Once all shrimp is in the pan, sprinkle salt, pepper and oregano evenly across all. The shrimp should cook for 3 minutes on the first side. Turn shrimp over and add all cooked garlic and 1 tablespoon of the garlic-infused olive oil. Cook 1-2 more minutes. Add the cilantro and lime. Mix together and serve.

2.) Carmelized Mango Garlic Sauce

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

8 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion – coarsely chopped
4 cloves fresh California-grown garlic – coarsely chopped
1 large ripe mango – peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup light brown sugar
6 cloves fresh roasted garlic – smashed to a paste
2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups either brown rice/whole-grain pasta

Preparation:

Roasted Garlic:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel one head of garlic. Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil on garlic cloves – seasoning with salt and pepper optional – atop a cooking sheet. Bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes at 450 degrees. Remove, and, with a large wooden spoon, smash into a paste.

Caramelized Mango Garlic Sauce:
Place stock in a medium saucepan over high heat and reduce to 4 cups. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the onions and cook until soft. Add the roasted garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the mango and cook for 2 minutes. Add the reduced stock and brown sugar and cook slowly over medium heat until the mango is very soft and falling apart – 30-40 minutes. Place the mixture, in batches, in a blender and blend until smooth. Strain the mixture into a clean saucepan, whisk in the roasted garlic and cook for 10-15 minutes, until reduced and slightly thickened. Stir in the cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over brown rice or whole-grain pasta.

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