I Think of the number of garlic cloves in a recipe’s ingredient list as more of a starting point. Unless I’m testing a recipe, in which case I follow the recipe as written, I almost always add more. Count me among the garlic devils.
The sharp, peppery bite it delivers is great. Chopped and dipped in butter or oil, it unleashes a heavenly aroma. And because it lasts so long, I almost always have it handy to go to weeknight dinners. If you nod in agreement, I bet you’re going to love this quick, frugal chicken and rice dish. It’s one I’ve been making since I was in college, especially when I saw garlic and chicken on sale.
It requires a whole clove of garlic.
For a cloves or three, I gently smash the garlic with the broad side of my chef’s knife, remove the skin, and then slice, mince, or grate it. If a recipe calls for smashing it, I just hit it harder with the flat side of the chef’s knife.
However, when a recipe calls for a whole head, I like to save time and mess.
To remove the papery skin, I rely on one of these three methods.
I like to shake them: Place the cloves in a large, clean, dry, hard-topped jar (e.g. an empty pickle jar) – or place the cloves in a metal bowl, turn an equal sized bowl over it and hold the bowls together there, where they are meet rims. Shake vigorously for 15 to 20 seconds. If there are any skins left, repeat the process with those. You may then have to peel a few, but most should fall away from their skin. This method works best with slightly older, dry heads of garlic. For fresher or stubborn garlic, you may need to snip the end of each clove where it was attached to the root.
If I’m adding the garlic to a sauce I might try one of these methods. Both result in slightly softened garlic.
microwave: Place the cloves on a plate and microwave on high for about 15 seconds. Take out and let cool for a few minutes. The skins should then come off easily. If not, give them another blast, this time lasting 5 seconds.
Hot water: With this method, you cut the end of each clove where it attaches to the root. Set up a kettle to boil water. Place the cloves in a large bowl, cover with boiling water, and let sit for five minutes, or until the skin begins to peel off. Drain, cool and then peel.
Another method we’ve experimented with: detaching cloves from their heads. Transfer them to the bowl of your food processor using the paddle attachment, secure the bowl guard to keep cloves from flying out, and beat on medium-high until the cloves have separated from their skins. This works, but the cloves will be smashed and then the bowl, paddle and guard will have to be cleaned. Too much work.
And instead of crushing all those cloves, I pull out my trusty garlic press. Maybe I prefer this method because I love strong garlic flavor.
I love sticking each clove (we called them “cloves” growing up) into the small chamber of the garlic press, holding them over a bowl, and then watching the morsels and oils come and fall out. For larger quantities, the press makes the task that much quicker compared to chopping on a cutting board.
If you have a garlic press, pull it out to make this garlic lover’s rice dish. It’s quick and easy to vary. The more you crush the garlic, the more dominant it will be, so keep that in mind when deciding whether to cut, mince, or press.
If you have leftover rice, use it. If not, put the rice on before you start cooking and it should be ready by the time you need it.
This dish calls for bite-sized pieces of chicken, pan-fried until browned, and spinach wilted in the same pan. Then the garlic is quickly fried until golden brown. There are people who argue that this makes the leek bitter, but it’s a bitterness I love.
Next, mix this roasted garlic with white rice and let this combination sit on the bottom of the pan until some of the rice grains turn brown and also golden. Stir in the cooked chicken and spinach and you’re done. If you like, you can sprinkle with some parmesan.
I’ve also made this dish with lean boneless pork chops, or you can mix cubed tofu with cornstarch, sauté in a little oil until golden on all sides, and stir in at the very end. Try this with other grains you love, or with your favorite tender veggies, such as B. peppery arugula, instead of spinach.
Roasted garlic chicken and rice
Time: 35 minutes
680g boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
Finely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
140 g baby spinach (5 cups)
2 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted, plus more if needed
1 head garlic, peeled, chopped, pressed or grated
500 g cooked long-grain white rice (see note)
20g grated parmesan to serve, more if needed
Place a large plate next to the stove.
Pat the chicken dry and season lightly with salt and pepper. In a large nonstick skillet over high heat, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the chicken pieces in one layer, cooking in portions if needed, and cook, stirring, until cooked through and browned, about 6 minutes. Place on the plate and cover with another plate or the lid of a saucepan to keep warm. Add the spinach to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Place on the platter with the chicken.
Reduce the heat to medium-high, add the butter and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until just lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add the rice and stir until the garlic is incorporated. Increase the heat to high, spread the rice over the bottom of the pan and cook, without stirring, until the rice on the bottom just starts to crisp, about 3 minutes. Transfer the spinach and chicken to the pan and toss lightly until well combined. Taste and add more butter, salt and pepper as needed.
Divide among four plates or shallow bowls and top each bowl with the Parmesan, serving more Parmesan at the table if desired.
Note: If you need to prepare a fresh batch of rice, for 500g of cooked long grain white rice, rinse 190g of rice until the water runs clear. Then place it in a medium saucepan with a lid over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil and stir to coat the rice. Add 350ml water and a pinch of salt if you like and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the rice is tender and the water is absorbed.
How to store: Refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Nutritional Information Per Serving (With Unsalted Butter) | Calories: 409; total fat: 14 g; saturated fat: 5 g; cholesterol: 139 mg; sodium: 180 mg; carbohydrates: 26 g; Fiber: 1g; sugar: 0 g; Protein: 42g
This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a nutritionist or nutritionist.
© The Washington Post