Many people are attracted to elephant garlic and buy it simply because of its size. They assume that it must be more strongly flavored than ordinary garlic. In fact the opposite is true.
What Is Elephant Garlic?
Elephant garlic – allium ampeloprasum – is probably more closely related to the leek than to ordinary garlic. The bulbs are very large and can weigh over a pound. A single clove of elephant garlic can be as large as a whole bulb of ordinary garlic.
In terms of flavour, elephant garlic is to garlic what leeks are to onions. It is much less intense and sweeter. It has been described – rather unkindly – as “garlic for people who don’t like garlic”.
When buying elephant garlic, follow the same guidelines as ordinary garlic: look for heads that are firm with plenty of dry, papery covering. Elephant garlic is more perishable than ordinary garlic so it doesn’t keep as long.
When cooking with elephant garlic, remember that it is not a substitute for ordinary garlic. Instead it is used where a subtle hint of garlic is wanted without overpowering the rest of the food. Elephant garlic is often served raw in salads or sliced and sauted in butter (be careful, it browns very quickly and can turn bitter). It’s also frequently used to give a hint of flavour to soups.
Roasting your elephant
Elephant Garlic is a delicious, mild, and sweet relative of garlic and onions, and is superb roasted.
- 1 Elephant Garlic
- 1 t Olive Oil
Instructions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Peel the outer layers of papery skin from a full fist (cluster) of elephant garlic, leaving a small amount of skin behind. Cut the very tops off the cloves with a sharp knife – only about 1/4 of an inch, just enough to expose the individual cloves inside the skin.
Wrap in aluminum foil, and drizzle some olive oil in with the garlic before closing the foil completely.
Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until garlic feels soft when pressed.
Allow to cool slightly, and carefully squeeze garlic out of the skins, or gently slice open the sides and remove with a fork.
Notes: Roasted Elephant Garlic is delicious eaten as is, or mashed into a paste and spread over warm french bread. It is also delicious mixed with mashed or baked potatoes, or on bagels with sour cream.
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