Black garlic is a specialty ingredient with a unique rich and dark flavor. It has been made in Korea using a traditional process for possibly centuries, but rose to worldwide popularity within the last two decades. In 2004, an inventor named Scott Kim developed a reliable method to produce it in large quantities, and it started being sold in the U.S. in 2007.
What Is Black Garlic? Ask Paul
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What Does Black Garlic Taste Like?
The thing that surprises anyone eating black garlic for the first time—after the color—is that it doesn’t taste particularly garlicky. The flavor is sweet, tangy, rich, and concentrated, like molasses or dried dates, with an earthy savor; the texture is sticky and spreadable.
How Is Black Garlic Made?
You can find “black garlic seeds” on Amazon, but those are a scam; black garlic is not a separate variety of garlic. It’s made by putting ordinary heads of garlic through a warm aging process that is often called fermentation but—as with black tea—is not technically fermentation.
Fermentation involves microorganisms, bacteria, yeasts, and molds transforming a foodstuff; making black garlic doesn’t require external microbes. Instead, it’s tantamount to very slow cooking.
The browning reactions of Maillardization and caramelization that happen during cooking, producing the wonderfully complex cooked flavor of roasted coffee, grilled meat, and dulce de leche, typically take place in minutes or hours, at a temperature above 250°F. The genius of black garlic is that the same reactions can happen at a lower temperature, just 140°F, if the temperature is maintained for months on end.
How Super-Slow Cooking Transforms Black Garlic’s Flavor
The super-slow cooking allows the garlic to transform more thoroughly, without the usual risk of burning or drying out. Time gives many more of the garlic’s sugars and amino acids an opportunity to undergo the Maillard reactions, producing a multitude of complex and unexpected flavors.
Since the garlic head is intact during the process, the usual formation of pungent garlic flavor, which occurs through enzymatic activity when garlic is cut, never happens. The enzymes that are responsible for those flavors being formed in cut garlic are destroyed by the heat; that’s why black garlic doesn’t taste garlicky.
You can make black garlic at home if you have time and space: a slow cooker on the “keep warm” setting for 60 days will do the job. Or you can buy it.
What Is Black Garlic Good For?
Test cooks at Cook’s Illustrated tried substituting black garlic for fresh garlic in familiar garlicky applications such as pasta and pizza, and found it overly subtle. Instead, it works well if you don’t really think of it as garlic: Puree it into sauces, salad dressings, and stews to add roasty flavor. It works wonderfully in recipes that contain soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, dried chiles, or sesame; and its richness complements savory foods like beef or mushrooms.
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Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!
Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.
Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!
John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.