Some like it large: cooking with elephant garlic
The heads of elephant garlic look like they are on steroids: in fact, a single clove can be larger than an entire head of regular-sized garlic. Many are drawn to elephant garlic for its sheer size. Some also find the elephant variety to be easier grow, peel, and cook with. But these plump bulbs are hiding something very important: they’re not really garlic at all!
Elephant garlic, known scientifically as allium ampeloprasum, is more closely related to the leek than to the normal stinking rose. Obviously the most recognizable distinction is its massive size: there have been cases when a single bulb weighs over a pound! Bulbs are big – but do they pack the same kind of flavor? Sadly, the answer is “no.” In terms of strength, many compare elephant garlic as being to garlic what leeks are to onions. The flavor is much more subdued and can be on the sweet side. Garlic lovers have also described it as "garlic for people who don't like garlic.”
While some aficionados might be disappointed by how mild elephant garlic tastes, others insist it is a better choice when it comes to cooking and prepping. Its milder taste can make it more palatable in raw form than its smaller counterpart. Elephant garlic is great in an assortment of foods, and can be added to dishes at the last minute for a garlicky note. You can use elephant garlic like you would use true garlic varieties, with the knowledge that it will have less pungency. Crushing, chopping, pressing or pureeing elephant garlic releases more of its essential oils and provides a more assertive flavor than slicing or leaving it whole.
Because elephant garlic cloves are so large, they can be more versatile to cook with than regular garlic. Their substantial sizes make them ideal for grilling, and are a super tasty, unique garnish or condiment for many dishes. If you’re in the mood for a more mild flavor, below is an easy and scrumptious grilled elephant garlic recipe. Bon appetit!
Yummy Herb Grilled Elephant Garlic
1 head elephant garlic
1½ tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons finely chopped, fresh thyme
1 teaspoon finely chopped, fresh oregano
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Qty: About ½ cup
- Cut the root end off each of the garlic cloves, and then peel them.
- Lay each clove on its flattest side, and then use a very sharp knife to thinly cut them into approximately ⅛-inch thick slices.
- Preheat a stovetop grill.
- In a small bowl, toss the garlic slices with the oil, herbs and sugar. Then spread them out evenly on a large plate, and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.
- Place the garlic slices on the grill once it's very hot. You should hear a sizzling sound; if you don’t, it’s not hot enough yet.
- Grill until just long enough to mark the bottom of the slices, about 2 minutes. If they get dark they will turn bitter!
- Carefully flip them over and grill the other side for about 2 more minutes, again just to mark them.
- Remove the garlic from the grill and let it cool to room temperature.
- Store in a tightly sealed container for up to 4 days until you're ready to use. Yum!
We hope you enjoy large peeled elephant garlic in your food! To get the skin off you will need to use a fast and easy kitchen garlic peeler.