Sunday is a great day to pound garlic. I probably pound garlic at least three days a week, but Sunday seems to be all about pounding garlic. I’m not rushing to put dinner on the table; I have the time to create in the kitchen, and I’ve got the time to vent and visualize while I cook.
I’m more into cooking than baking. That means I like to work with a big pot, some meat, some vegetables and some tomatoes. And lots of garlic. I hate doing dishes, so I try to use the least amount of tools when I cook. I’ve tried garlic presses. They suck. Most of the precious garlic is left in the gadget, and then you have several parts of the tool to wash. I could use garlic powder (gasp) but I have too much pride. And I won’t use the stuff in the jar that’s already minced. I don’t care what they say the shelf life is on that stuff. That can’t be good after it’s been opened for awhile. It might taste okay, but I bet it doesn’t taste like garlic.
Pounding garlic is easy, fun, therapeutic and theatrical. How can you beat that?
I assume you are all savvy in the kitchen, but then I’ve also assumed that everybody drinks coffee. I have been wrong on those counts before. A clove of garlic is one of those sections that separates from the big bulb. If you’ve never bought garlic before, I probably won’t be able to share a bottle of wine with you. (Actually, I can share a bottle of wine with anybody.) But you really ought to buy garlic. When you have a bulb of garlic in your cart, it fools other shoppers into believing that you know your way around a kitchen.
Trim the tips of the garlic cloves, and the peelings should fall right off. Lay the cloves on one half of a piece of plastic wrap. Fold the other half of the wrap over the cloves.
This is the fun part.
Grab a big serving spoon and start whacking the garlic cloves. Whack evenly, but not too hard. I’ve tried this with a wooden mallet, but I ended up getting carried away. I left divots in my cutting board, and had garlic puree when I was done. If there are kids around, they will come running, and ask if they can try it, too.
You should end up with an evenly minced spread of garlic sandwiched between two layers of plastic wrap. When it’s time to add to the pot, separate the layers of plastic, and gently scrape the blade of your chef’s knife across the wrap. Picture the opposite of spreading something on the wrap. It works better if you scrape away from yourself. The minced garlic ends up on the blade and can be transferred to the pot.
Here’s why pounding garlic is so fabulous.
- It makes your kitchen smell fantastic.
- It makes any recipe taste better because the garlic is fresh.
- It proves to be a very efficient way to vent frustrations while cooking. (Picture the face of the person person you’d like to pound, sandwiched between the layers of plastic.)
- You won’t have extra dishes to wash.
- Your kids will be entertained.
Garlic isn’t expensive. Try pounding garlic even if you aren’t cooking. It’s cheaper than therapy. Or try pounding garlic when you wish you could escape your life. Poor a glass of red, put some Dean Martin on the iPod, pretend you are Sophia Loren making an incredible plate of pasta for your lover. (That probably won’t work if you have children fighting over who’s turn it is to do the pounding.)
And when you are done, close your eyes, smell the tips of your fingers, and pretend you’re in sunny Italy getting ready to be served by a handsome Italian waiter.