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A Bright Bulb

A Bright Bulb
April 2009
Chef John Ondo of Kiawah’s The Atlantic Room shares trade secrets on working with garlic, the flavorful darling of Mediterranean fare

As the former chef-owner of Mediterranean bistro Lana, John Ondo knows garlic. “Because if you’re not using it, your meal’s not Mediterranean,” he says. Admitting that the bulb can be a little tricky, he was happy to send some advice from the kitchen.

How to Buy:
For starters, “I don’t care what Rachael Ray says, don’t ever buy the precut stuff in a jar,” he says. Instead, head for the grocery store produce section, “and look for plump bulbs with skin that is dry, without any wrinkling or sprouts.”

How to Peel:
“Place the garlic clove on your cutting board and press down firmly with the flat side of a chef’s knife; after that, the peel will come off easily.”

How to Cut:
“Don’t cut the garlic too fine, as it will permeate the whole dish,” instructs Ondo. “For a marinade, slice it paper-thin crosswise. For tomato sauces and soups, rough chop garlic cloves by simply crushing them with a knife.”

How to Roast:
To roast a bulb of garlic, first remove and discard any loose skin. “Then, cut about a quarter-inch off the top of the bulb and throw this away. Coat the exposed top of the bulb generously with olive oil and wrap it in foil.” Place in a preheated 400°F oven for about 45 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and let cool. “This will keep for four or five days.”