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.

Archive for BBQ

GARLI-PEñO BURGERS PUT THE FIREWORKS IN YOUR 4TH

Hot day, hot food, hotcha, cha cha – it’s the 4th of July! After voting for our independence in 1776, (no, I wasn’t there!) John Adams wrote to his wife to say that the day would be the most memorable in history and celebrated with “pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations… forever more.” Woohoo, J.A. called it, but he forgot one thing… BARBECUE!

I’ll be front and center on the grill line Monday, flipping the almighty all-American burgers for our 4th fiesta, but this time around I was keen to put a few fireworks into my same ole, same ole burger blend. While I was updating a flyer for our Christopher Ranch Chopped Jalapeños, an idea hit me! Hmmm…

Now, our CR Chopped Jalapenos are spicy and tangy and lovely all by themselves, but, I said to myself, imagine what they would be like with some fresh chopped Christopher Ranch California Heirloom garlic thrown in, and then, I said to myself, imagine if I whirled up this garli-peño blend and added it to my burgers! As my mouth started to water, I said to myself, I’ve think I’ve come up with something gooood!

I became obsessed with the garli-peño idea (why else would I be talking to myself…) but I wanted to give it a test run before the 4th. I hit the market for supplies after work, did a few chores at home and started prepping my burger essentials. I was ready to create and it turned out to be the easier than I thought…

GARLICIA’S GARLI-PEñO BURGERS

5   cloves finely chopped Christopher Ranch California Garlic

1   4.25 oz jar Christopher Ranch Chopped Jalapeños

1   lb. ground beef

I blended everything together, made 3 giant patties, but didn’t add any other ingredients because I wanted to experience the true taste of my creation. I browned the burgers well (and slowly) in a skillet and served them on whole wheat buns with lettuce, tomato and touch of mayo. I usually drown my burgers in catsup, but I held off this time to let the jalapeño flavor come through.  I presented one to my “royal taster” (he loves beef and anything hot and spicy) and he gave me the thumbs up, even though his hands were full, and plowed through his burger. I took that as a sign of confidence and took my first bite…

My burger could have used a little salt and pepper, but I must say, it was pretty darn gooood – hot, spicy, juicy and garlicky. However, I think it needed a bit more fire, so if you want a really explosive burger, add more CR Garlic and more CR Chopped Jalapenos to light it up – after all, if you’re like me, you love fireworks on the 4th of July! 

P.S.  One more thing… go ahead and put catsup on it. This Garli-peño burger can take it!

P.P.S.  I had some garli-peño mixture left over and threw it in the blender with a pinch of sugar and salt and made my own Sriracha sauce to serve on the burgers. My “royal taster” gave me another thumbs up on that one.

PUT THE FIREWORKS IN YOUR FOOD – AND HAVE A SAFE AND SANE 4TH!

THE BEST GARLIC BREAD I’VE EVER TASTED

Having a BBQ this Memorial Day? Never underestimate the power of garlic bread* at a backyard soiree. I’ve seen guests chow down on garlic bread with wild abandon, even ignoring the rest of the delectables laid out before them. Their obsession, however, could work to your advantage if you’ve underestimated the amount of ribs or burgers you were going to need to feed your guests.    

Garlic bread is usually quick and easy to make, but everyone I know puts their own special tweak on it. Some add this and some add that, a bit of parmesan or parsley, a touch of chile flakes or basil, but for scrumptious, straightforward, can’t-get-enough-of-it garlic bread, there is a special technique for making it the best you’ve ever tasted.

I found this out as I watched Val Filice (the late, great Gilroy Garlic Festival head chef) make garlic bread at a Ranch function many years ago. I had always wondered why his garlic bread was so much yummier than any I had ever tasted – it had garlic, it had butter – but that day I hovered around him to see what culinary mojo he possessed. His “secret” turned out to be very simple but I felt like I had struck gold when I saw what it was.

Before I spill the details, here’s what you need to get started on…

THE BEST GARLIC BREAD I’VE EVER TASTED

2 to 3       cubes of butter per loaf of bread – substitute one cube of butter with margarine if desired – but only one!

2 to 3       tbls. finely chopped, fresh Christopher Ranch California Heirloom Garlic per cube of butter – *Never underestimate the power of Christopher Ranch Garlic to make your garlic bread spectacular!

                  Several loaves of fresh, sweet French bread – figure ¼ loaf per person.  That may be a generous estimate – then again it might be conservative after your guests taste it.

                  Roasting pan at least 3” deep and large enough to hold the full length of a loaf of French bread.

                  Barbecue grill at low to medium heat (or broiler if you’re staying in.)

Now you’re ready for the final procedure. Drumroll, please…

Slowly melt butter in roasting pan on the grill or stove top while adding fresh, chopped CR garlic. Stir and let mixture sit on very low heat for about 10 minutes without burning. Butter will separate like it’s clarified, but don’t skim off foam or separate it. Stir occasionally.

Slice loaves of bread lengthwise. Place sliced bread cut side down on the grill or cut side up in broiler and grill/broil until browned and toasty. Give the garlic butter a stir to evenly blend butter and garlic chunks, then dip the entire cut surface of the toasted bread into the garlic butter for about 2 seconds – don’t over soak or completely submerge the bread into the mixture.

Cymbal crash! That’s the secret, folks – use CR garlic (make it easy with CR Peeled Garlic), toast the bread first, then dip, slice and serve. When you take your first bite, garlic butter should run down your chin. Ohhhyuummm, garlicious…

P. S.  Have a fun, safe Memorial Day, and while you’re enjoying this holiday, please take a moment to honor those lost in the service of our country.  

A PIRATE PICNIC LOADED WITH RUM AND GARLIC

Well, my plans for a pre-Memorial Day barbecue got washed out last weekend – it turned into a broiler-que instead – but now that the sun is out (and, hopefully, stays out), I’m looking forward to having a real holiday shindig. 

I never know where my inspiration for a party is going to come from. Sometimes it’s an article in the media or some segment on the Today show or Oprah (jeeps, I’m gonna miss her….) but sometimes it comes from a silly misheard word, and that’s what went down a few days ago.

My clock radio jolted me out of deep snooze and the first thing I heard was someone talking about the premier party for Pirates of the Caribbean VIII (oh, it’s only #4, my mistake) at Disneyland. The radio announcer excitedly reported that Captain Jack Sparrow would be making an appearance – but – I swear I heard him say that Captain Jack Spareribs was going to be there!  Now, my true brain knew that couldn’t be right, but my fantasy brain immediately took over. After all, party = barbecue = spareribs is a natural progression for me, and there it was… the inspiration for a Memorial Day party. My Pirate Picnic (arrrr, mateys) is now in the works with, you guessed it, Captain Jack Spareribs as the maindish attraction! Love it when a plan just falls in my lap…

The rest is a no-brainer: a Caribbean theme with lots of parrots, palm trees and exotic, fruity drinks; a dress code of puffy shirts, eyepatches and striped pants – and men, eyeliner is required. With a rib recipe that’s fit for Captain Jack – flashy, sassy and loaded with rum and gaarrrrrlic (hmmm, sounds like most of my friends…) I think, me hearties, it’ll be a treasure of a party!

CAPTAIN JACK SPARERIBS

4        lbs. pork spareribs – country style suggested, cut into serving size portions if desired

4        or more cloves Christopher Ranch California Garlic – crushed

           Juice of one fresh lemon – preferably with the pulp

1         cup brown sugar

1/4     cup ketchup

1/4      cup soy sauce

1/4      cup Worcestershire sauce

1/3      cup rum (dark rum preferred)

1/2      cup chile sauce or salsa

1          tsp. dry mustard

1          dash ground black pepper

In a bowl, blend all ingredients except ribs. Place ribs in a covered pan or zip lock bags and add half the marinade. Store at room temperature for at least 1 hour or refrigerate overnight. Refrigerate leftover marinade. Cooking instructions: place ribs with marinade in a baking pan and cover tightly with foil. Bake at 350º for 1 1/2 hours. Prepare grill for medium heat. Brush or spray grate with oil to prevent sticking. Place ribs on grill and cook for about 45 minutes (more or less), turning and basting with leftover marinade at intervals.  

   After this feast, let he or she who does not reek of garlic, walk the plank…

ALLIUM ECSTASY – A THRILL UPON THE GRILL

The more I cook with our new peeled specialties – Peeled Pearls, Cipollines and Shallots – the more I fall in love with them. Besides the fabulous flavor, they’re easy to use. Have you ever tried to peel these little darlings? They are expletive inducing and I’d rather spend the time creating my latest cocktail than cussing at a herd of stubborn little onions. Since peeling is no longer a factor (thank you CR production crew) I’m gung ho to try them every which way. 

My last recipe, Allium & Artichoke Medley recipe, was a winner, but now that summer is around the corner (please!!!) it’s time to pull the BBQ out of the barn for an allium mixed grill.  What could be simpler and more delicioso! Just toss a blend of CR Peeled Pearls, Cips and Shallots in EVOO, then skewer, season and go to town. Turn them often so they don’t burn and grill until they’re very tender and carmelized.  Ahhh… allium ecstasy.

GLORIOUS GRILLED ALLIUMS

6 oz. Christopher Ranch Peeled Pearl Onions

6 oz. Christopher Ranch Peeled Cipolline Onions

6 oz. Christopher Ranch Peeled Shallots 

Skewer 2 or 3 of each allium per skewer and brush with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on medium hot grill and turn frequently until golden brown and tender. Remove from skewer, serve warm as a side dish or add to taste in a variety of ways, e.g.: 

• Use as a topping for grilled steak or chicken as is or combined with sautéed mushrooms.

• Blend with other grilled vegetables like zucchini, eggplant or artichoke hearts. Add to steamed vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. Healthy and delicious!

• Add warm to a salad of mixed greens or sliced tomatoes, and toss with a favorite vinaigrette or a little balsamic vinegar. 

P.S. Try grilling our CR Peeled Garlic Cloves also, but they may take more time to get tender – and keep an eye on them as burned garlic can be bitter. 

ALOHA GARLI-GARLI CHICKEN

When toying with the idea of taking a hula class (why, you ask – why not, I say!) a slip of the touch on my iPad brought me to a recipe that had nothing to do with dancing but everything to do with Hawaii – Huli-Huli Chicken. Legend has it that this Hawaiian classic was created in 1955, by a man named Ernest Morgado. His teriyaki style dish was so wonderful that it became an instant hit at a local farmers’ barbecue and then quickly became the signature Hawaii fundraiser food, bringing in thousands of dollars for schools and other organizations.

Huli is the Hawaiian word for “turn” and since the chicken was usually cooked between two grills that had to be flipped over, it was christened Huli-Huli Chicken. Mr. Morgado trademarked the name so we can’t use it here, and his original recipe is top secret but, thank you internet, there are many huli-huli- style recipes out there. None of the recipes I’ve seen has enough garlic in it anyway, so with a tip of the garlic bulb to Hawaii, here’s Christopher Ranch’s version which I affectionately call…

GARLI-GARLI CHICKEN

2           frying chickens – halved or quartered

3           tbls. peanut oil

10        cloves Christopher Ranch California Garlic – chopped

1           tbls. grated fresh ginger

1/3       cup catsup

1/3       cup soy sauce

¼          cup brown sugar

¼          cup pineapple juice

¼          cup sherry

2           tbls. Worcestershire sauce

1 – 2     pinches red pepper flakes

¼         cup fresh lemon juice

¼         cup pineapple chunks (optional)

Grill Method:

Marinate chicken for at least 2 hours. Brush the chicken with the remaining marinade while grilling, and give the chicken a huli at intervals.

Stovetop Method:

Heat oil in large skillet and brown chicken well on all sides, adding garlic and ginger toward the end. Blend next 8 ingredients and add to chicken. Cook, covered, over medium heat turning (there’s that huli) occasionally until chicken is done and sauce has been reduced somewhat. Watch very carefully so that the sauce does not burn or boil away. The chicken should be slightly glazed, and there should be a bit of sauce left to serve with the chicken. Add pineapple chunks at the end of cooking if desired. Serve with rice.

There are many variations of this dish and ingredients and amounts can vary depending on individual tastes. Some add shoyu, chicken broth, white wine, rice wine vinegar and chili sauce so don’t be afraid to add your own special touch to this recipe. And, for a true taste of Hawaii, I recommend doing the hula while you huli… Aloha!