Tag Archives: Cooking

The Joys of Fried Garlic

For many of us, the basis of a given night’s meal is oil, onion and garlic sweating in a sauté pan over medium heat. It forms a base of flavor that lends itself to any number of dishes. But lest you fear overcooking garlic, know that it can add a wonderful, aromatic crunch to many dishes when it is left to fry and slightly brown.

Chicken Wings with Fried Garlic

Photo by Timothy Tsui on Flickr

Sautéed vegetables like green beans or brussel sprouts are great with browned garlic. Making a sauce for fish? Fried garlic adds a really flavorful element to butter and lemon based sauces. Crunchy garlic is also what help make home fries made in an iron skillet so delicious. Just don’t let the garlic cook enough to turn black, because then it becomes bitter.

Fried garlic is a very common ingredient in Asian, particularly Thai, cuisine. It is even available pre-made in jars for just a couple of bucks at Asian markets.

Fried garlic

It is the “secret” ingredient to making authentic tasting pad thai and many Vietnamese soups. I sprinkle it liberally on almost every Asian noodle dish I make at home.

Bacon can’t improve meatloaf

Meatloaf is perhaps the classic comfort food, but is often associated with colder months when our bodies crave hearty fare with gravy and roasted vegetables. But I made some meatloaf this weekend and found it just as delicious and satisfying as ever.

Recipes for meatloaf are everywhere. It is a pretty forgiving foodstuff so naturally the Internet is full of preposterous variations, granny recipes and family secrets. I typically use a basic recipe from a cook book with minor variations. Try Joy of Cooking or How to Cook Everything for starters.

Everything else I do focuses on developing a really fine, flavorful crust.

Resist the urge to cover your meatloaf with slices of bacon while baking. While a bacon-infused loaf sounds tempting, keep in mind that the crust is the best part. Bacon will taste good but underneath you will just have a mushy, soft surface.

I repeat: Leave off the bacon.

Secondly, do not stuff your meat mixture into a loaf pan. Rather, use a sheet tray with edges and line it with foil or parchment. Use your hands to mold the meatloaf into shape. This way the sides are exposed and develop a crust. But why stop there? You see, I’ve found that making four or more smaller loaves as opposed to one large one increases the percentage of crust as well. If you make them into single portion sizes, there will be no slicing required.

I believe that a good glaze is an essential element of meatloaf crust. Some folks use ketchup which is fine and dandy, while others use a grape jelly base which is kind of gross. Feel free to experiment with glaze concoctions, keeping in mind that it must have a high percentage of sugar in order to get sticky and caramelized. Recently I used a combination of ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, sugar and hot sauce which turned out great. Don’t apply the glaze until halfway through cooking, otherwise you run the risk of it burning.

Meatloaf

Nice crust. Photo by Girl Interrupted Eating on Flickr.

Having smaller loaves does decrease the cooking time somewhat, so you will have to be vigilant and flexible in determining when it’s finished cooking. Meatloaf is great leftover–even cold–so be sure to make plenty of it. I have found it’s even good for breakfast.

Do you have tips and tricks for making meatloaf? Or an old family recipe? Let’s hear them.

–Dave LaCrone