Love it or hate it garlic has a lot to offer. From antibacterial properties to vampire killing power to adding depth to good chili, the humble bulb has many applications.
Italian cooking is probably best known for the inclusion of garlic, but it is also widely used in asian cuisines, that of the middle east, northern Africa, as well as southern & central America. Garlic was even known to Ancient Egyptians, Greeks & Roman soldiers thousands of years ago!
There are far more uses for garlic than just those in the kitchen however. Acne zapper, hair loss remedy, athletes foot fixer mosquito repellent and fishermans bait are other unexpected duties that garlic steps up to. For a fun demonstration of how effectively the human body absorbs chemicals from our surroundings place a clove of garlic between you toes- you’ll taste it within a few minutes!
While garlic isn’t generally consumed in an extremely large quantity, it does still yield a respectful nutritional balance. Vitamin C as well as vitamins B1 & B6 and some dietary minerals can be found in garlic. More of the beneficial properties of garlic are found outside of the traditional nutritional benefits however. Allowing garlic to ‘rest’ after chopping gives the cancer protective enzyme alliinase time to develop.
Garlic also has some heart protecting abilities under its belt. “Our red blood cells can take sulfur-containing molecules in garlic (called polysulfides) and use them to produce H2S. This H2S in turn can help our blood vessels expand and keep our blood pressure in check.” (ref) Research has also shown a clear ability of garlic to lower cholesterol, even though only within a range of 5-15%. There are however far more cardioprotective benefits to garlic than blood pressure & cholesterol regulation.
“Those top-level benefits clearly come in the form of blood cell and blood vessel protection from inflammatory and oxidative stress. Damage to blood vessel linings by highly reactive oxygen molecules is a key factor for increasing our risk of cardiovascular problems, including heart attack and atherosclerosis. Oxidative damage also leads to unwanted inflammation, and it is this combination of unwanted inflammation and oxidative stress that puts our blood vessels at risk of unwanted plaque formation and clogging. Garlic unique set of sulfur-containing compounds helps protect us against both possibilities—oxidative stress and unwanted inflammation.” (ref)
This recipe for Drunken Garlic Chicken & Vegetables comes from the seemingly defunct Balanced Platter but has been on my favourite list for years! I recommend skipping either the rice or the potatoes and adding in something green (like green beans!) instead.
- ¼ lb Organic Bacon (nitrite free), cut into ½ inch pieces
- 3 lb bone-in, skin-on organic chicken pieces
- 1 tsp salt, or more to taste
- ½ tsp pepper, or more to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large organic yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 pound organic carrots, sliced diagonally in 1 inch pieces
- 8 ounces: artichoke hearts, in water, drained
- ½ cup fresh organic mushrooms, left whole
- 1 ½ cup dry white wine (you can use a 12 oz bottle of gluten free beer instead)
- ½ lb organic fingerling potatoes, halved OR Sweet Potatoes cut into 2 inch cubes
- 1 ¼ cups gluten-free organic chicken stock, or homemade bone broth
- 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, coarsely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 10 cloves organic garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup green onions, sliced white and green parts
- 3 cups brown rice or quinoa, cooked
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Season chicken all over with salt and pepper.
3. Heat oil in a heavy 5-quart Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the bacon and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.
4. Add the olive oil to the drippings and brown chicken in the Dutch oven turning once, about 5 minutes total. Will most likely have to do it in batches so you do not over-crowd the pan (add a little more olive oil, if necessary). Transfer chicken as it is done to a plate and set aside.
5. Add onions and cook until soft and golden, 5 to 6 minutes. Add carrots, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, and potatoes and cook for a few minutes more, until they start to caramelize and brown a bit.
6. Add wine (or beer) and deglaze the pan with it by scraping off all of the delicious browned bits. Then add chicken stock, rosemary, basil and bay leaf and stir well.
7. Return chicken, along with any accumulated juices, to the Dutch oven and spoon vegetable mixture over the tops of the chicken. Cover and transfer to the oven.
8. Cook for about 45-50 minutes. Remove pan from oven and add sliced garlic. Return to oven for another 15 minutes, until chicken is tender. Remove bay leaf from pot.
9. Spoon chicken, with its vegetables and sauce, over the brown rice or quinoa and serve garnished with green onions.