New garlic, also called fresh garlic or wet garlic, is commonly eaten in Europe at this stage of harvest. The garlic is harvested when fully developed, but not yet hung and dried or cured, so the wrappers surrounding the cloves are not dry but still wet and actually edible, somewhat softer than an apple peel. The garlic itself is crisp, crunchy, and while not completely sweet like an apple, the texture and some residual sweetness in the flavor profile lends itself to frequently being eaten raw.
However, here is an easy recipe using new garlic heads in a delicious cooked dish. It's a modification of a recipe I recently saw in the New York Times.
1 package boneless chicken thighs (6-8 thighs)
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp. butter + 1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 very large onion chopped, about 2 cups
8-12 heads of garlic (depending on size and also how 'garlicky' you and your guests enjoy being)
Several large sprigs of fresh thyme (from our herb garden)
1 large sprig of rosemary (from our herb garden)
1 cup white wine (I used a dry riesling)
Fresh parsley as garnish (optional, but beautiful, easy, tasty, and also easy if you have some growing in a pot on your windowsill or herb garden)
Generously season the chicken thighs with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Heat oven to 375 degrees. In your Dutch oven on the stove-top, heat the butter and olive oil, add onions and cook on medium heat until browned but not overcooked (5-8 minutes). (Special Note: I used my 6 quart Dutch oven but a smaller one could also be used ok.)
Cut roots and top/stalk from garlic head, peel any tough outer wrappers from the garlic heads. Cut each in half from top to bottom. (Special Note: If the garlic bulbs are hard-neck varieties, easily slip out the hard stalk from the center of each half.) Add garlic halves to onions, season with a bit more salt and pepper, stir to coat completely. Place herb sprigs on top of onion and garlic mixture then add chicken thighs in one layer.
Add wine and 1 cup of water. Bring to a simmer on the stove top and then cover the Dutch oven and transfer to the oven. Bake for 35 minutes, covered. Remove lid, bake for an additional 10 minutes or until chicken has browned and juices run clear. Let it rest out of the oven for 10 minutes if you can wait that long!
Serve 1-2 pieces of chicken with juices, onion, garlic halves on top of cooked pasta (I used lightly pan-fried polenta pieces but I almost cooked up some lasagna noodles I had on hand).
Serve with any fresh vegetable as a side. I actually added some left-over braised summer squash and tomato mixture to the Dutch oven mixture while the chicken dish was 'resting'.
Seriously, this recipe is delicious. Don't be afraid of all this garlic. I'm going to make this recipe weekly as long as we are harvesting garlic and have 'new garlic' in spades. :)
I'm going to try the recipe using some thick fish filets, too.
Now for a few photos so you don't have to just take my word on this:
Garlic cloves cleaned and cut in half. You can see where I removed the center core (hard neck) from some of the garlic halves.
Garlic halves and onions in Dutch oven on stove top
Garlic halves, onions, and herb sprigs in Dutch oven on stove top
Adding chicken thighs to the garlic halves, onions, and herb sprigs, with wine and water added to the Dutch oven
Cooked Chicken Fricassee with summer squash and tomatoes added while resting in Dutch oven
Chicken Fricassee plated over polenta rounds.
Chicken Fricassee close up of the garlic half - eat it all! The garlic is now soft and mellow.
What a great way to enjoy life, with great-tasting food, behind or not. :)
Here's an idea for those of my readers who have a favorite local farmer, no matter where you live. "Love your farmer? Feed your farmer!" Really, I confess that I would LOVE it. Even being 'fed' just one day a month by someone who loves us, to not be quite so far behind as we grow great food for our community, would be deeply appreciated. Yes, you can still offer to volunteer at your local farm by helping to weed or harvest, but don't be shy about asking if your farmers would welcome having someone bring them a meal. I'll bet my bottom dollar that most farmers who are scrambling to squeeze 36 hours of work into 24 hour days would appreciate your offer. Some might just burst into tears of gratitude. :)
I'll end exactly how I started - Yum, yum! :)
Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row,
Diana Dyer, MS, RD