There are so many ways to mince a glove of garlic. We're down to listen to Acheson on this one.
Admit it: Mincing garlic evenly isn’t as easy as it looks. If you’re comfortable with a chef’s knife, you’ve probably become relatively good at it, but even for more practiced home cooks, and especially for those just starting out, it always seems to be one of the most underratedly annoying cooking steps—and one that so many dishes require. Every chef and home cook seems to have his or her own way for approaching a head of garlic (shaking it in a container, anyone?), and for attacking the individual gloves too (ahem, Microplane). At the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen this weekend, Hugh Acheson demonstrated his favorite way to achieve consistent pieces of finely minced garlic, and we're we're into it.
“I cut garlic like I cut onions,” he says. Seems like a no-brainer, but admittedly, we don't always take this approach—and that's not the end of his technique. He also immediately sprinkles the minced clove with salt, and then smashes it with his knife.
Here's a detailed description: First, Acheson cuts the clove of garlic in half and then places it on the cutting board flat side down, just as you would with any other vegetable you’re chopping. He then scores the clove, but not all the way to end—just as halfway through—many times, as though he's carving stairs into the side of the clove. Next, he makes the same cuts vertically, but again, not all the way to the end. Once those cuts have been made, he finally begins to mince the clove all the way through. Using this technique, the result should be uniform pieces of garlic.
“Reserve that little edge to hinge everything together,” he says. “I keep my finger touching the knife and I make a claw. The reason you use the claw is because it’s better to cut off a bit of your knuckle than the end of your finger.”
Once Acheson’s garlic is minced into tiny cubes, he sprinkles salt over the top. The salt absorbs moisture, which will help to bind the garlic, turning it into more of a “pulpy mass” as it cooks. You want that type of consistency if you’re sautéing or cooking a stew.
In order to break the garlic down even further before adding it to a frying pan, Acheson lays his knife flat on the cutting board and works it in circles over the garlic.
“That really pulps out, to make it really fine garlic,” he explains. “And if you have kids, make their lunch on the same cutting board every day and they will hate you.”
All jokes aside, Acheson’s method for mincing garlic is nearly foolproof and takes the hassle out of adding this pretty much essential ingredient to all your favorite recipes.