Garlic has a strong following, even when it stands alone

BIG ON GARLIC

January 03, 1993|By Waltrina Stovall | Waltrina Stovall,Contributing Writer

What prolific writer Anonymous has called garlic "the ketchup of intellectuals."

Does that mean only more intelligent people like it? Or that eating it guarantees more time alone for deep thinking?

Whatever, Americans must be getting smarter or lonelier, because the aromatic bulb of the lily family has become a popular appetizer.

Many restaurants roast the whole head, then slice it open before serving. Diners dig out the butter-soft cloves to spread on crusty bread, with perhaps a little butter or olive oil.

Chef Salvador Valenciana cooks garlic heads in chicken broth instead of roasting them. He also serves them with a rich red wine sauce flavored with shallots, a (non-)kissing cousin to garlic.

But what is most surprising is the size of the garlic heads Valenciana uses -- often 3 1/2 to 4 inches in diameter, bigger than most of the "elephant garlic" from California.

It is Mexican garlic, and often the cloves have a purplish tinge. Mr. Valenciana buys his garlic from a food wholesaler specializing in Mexican foods.

Few grocery stores carry the oversize heads, though many ethnic markets sell regular Mexican garlic, which is bigger (and cheaper) than the usual supermarket variety.

If you want to try the following recipe, just buy the biggest heads you can find.

Cooked garlic is much milder in flavor than raw. Some say it also is milder on the breath, but smart garlic-eaters like to share garlic dishes with people they are close to share garlic dishes with people they are close to.

These recipes should give you a taste of the wonderful ways garlic can be cooked and served.

Whole garlic with bordelaise sauce

Serves four.

4 large Mexican garlic heads

4 to 6 cups clear chicken stock

1 cup finely chopped shallots

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup Burgundy wine

2 cups brown sauce (recipe follows)

1 stem rosemary, finely chopped

Slice off about 1/2 inch of the top of the garlic so that the cloves are exposed. Save the cut part to mince and use in other recipes.

Place whole garlic heads in a pan, cut side up, and add chicken stock to cover well. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, covered, 20 minutes or until garlic is tender. Drain.

Prepare the bordelaise sauce. Saute shallots in butter until tender. Add Burgundy and simmer until reduced by half. Add brown sauce and simmer 10 minutes. Before removing from heat, stir in the minced rosemary.

Spoon the bordelaise sauce onto 4 serving plates and place a garlic head in the center of each.

Brown sauce 1/4 cup meat drippings

1/2 cup minced vegetables (carrot, onion, celery)

1/4 cup flour

1 cup drained, peeled tomatoes, chopped

5 black peppercorns

1/4 cup minced parsley

4 cups clear beef stock

In a heavy saucepan, saute vegetables in drippings until they begin to brown. Stir in flour and cook until golden brown. Add remaining ingredients and simmer 2 hours. Stir occasionally and skim off fat. Strain and season with salt and pepper.

) Universal Press Syndicate

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