Ever seen the words "2 cloves garlic, minced" in a cookbook and reached for the jar of ready-minced garlic? Or attempted to mince garlic only to end up with jagged, misshapen chunks that don't melt easily into the dish you're preparing? Never fear -- you're about to learn how to mince garlic easily.
Garlic, as we all know, has a very strong flavor and aroma. Its flavor actually gets stronger the smaller it's cut, which is why dishes like chicken with 40 cloves of garlic don't get overwhelming. But having chunks of garlic in a dish where garlic is meant to be minced is unpleasant and unpalatable -- and completely unnecessary once you've learned to mince properly. The secret starts with a sharp knife, but after that, it's all about having a bit of technique.
Peel the garlic clove. It should pop right out of its skin if it's been crushed properly.
Remove the end of the clove and the sprout, if you like (some do, some don't) -- you can decide which flavor you prefer.
Make several parallel cuts through the garlic clove, going almost all the way through the clove but also keeping the end together, in order to make slicing crosswise easier.
Hold the clove together and slice crosswise through the parallel cuts. This is where having a sharp knife is key! Keep your fingers on top of the clove to avoid cutting yourself.
Once again, cut almost all the way through to the end without cutting completely through.
Put the point of your knife on the board and rock your knife while slowly edging it through the garlic clove. If you go slowly, you should end up with a perfectly sized mince on the first go.
As you reach the end of the clove, you'll need to bunch your fingers together and be very careful so as not to cut yourself.
If you don't end up with a small enough mince on the first go, you can run your knife back through the garlic again.
That being said, I prefer a secondary technique if you need your garlic a bit smaller than a mince.
First, season the minced garlic with a bit of fleur de sel or other salt with jagged edges.
Then, use the flat of your knife blade to crush and cut the garlic. This will help you create a garlic paste; the salt will help break the pieces of garlic down.
I sometimes use this technique for recipes where garlic will remain raw, like in a summer tomato salad or Greek salad. Minced garlic is great in this roasted rutabaga with garlic and thyme recipe or with organic bistro garlic fries.
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All Images by Emily Monaco