Preparing Garlic - crush, mince, grind, etc.
Saturday we had people over for Kevin's birthday, and one of the things I made was a garlic/lemon/dill dip for potato chips that was everyone's favorite, although I was not sure why. The way I make it (and I will not vary this) is to mash a couple of large cloves of garlic with some Kosher salt in a mortar & pestle until I get a smooth paste. I found out later that Nancy Silverstone swears by this method, but I picked it up at a friend's house in Mexico City. It seems to affect the flavor of the garlic, although not necessarily as some people report.
Do you use this method with garlic? If not, then how do you prepare raw garlic for a dish that is not cooked, such as pesto or Caesar Salad? I have to admit that I have been chopping garlic for pesto before adding it to a mini-FP, and I simply add chopped garlic to a blender when I make Caesar Salad dressing, but not when I make Ranch Dressing, which is basically what my potato chip dip recipe is.
To continue the recipe for the dip:
Add ground black pepper to the mortar & pestle, and grind that with the garlic and salt. Then transfer that to a bowl and add fresh Meyer lemon juice, minced dill, sour cream, and mayo. I used about a tablespoon of dill, juice of one large lemon, and maybe 1/2 cup each of sour cream and mayo - I do not measure those. After the party, I served the dip with baked potatoes, and my house guest finished it off!
It is my contention that mashing the garlic with the salt in the mortar & pestle changes its flavor, and I know that there are those who agree with me, but what do those of you who have tried it think? To me, it is hardly any more effort, and I generally start a simple vinaigrette salad dressing this way as well. I personally think it makes the garlic more mellow, but some people seem to think that it makes the garlic more intense. My houseguest (Richard, from San Francisco) says that he cannot eat raw garlic, but he ate this!
I am anxiously awaiting the next garlic season so that I can buy a new braid.