The iconic chef shares his tips for preparing garlic the classic way.

By Bridget Hallinan
July 10, 2019

Preparing garlic while you cook can be a huge pain. The papery skin often sticks to the cloves (and your fingers) as you peel; achieving the fine dice recipes call for is easier said than done, and I’ll readily admit that I resort to a garlic crusher to do the dirty work for me when I’ve lost my patience. However, legendary chef, author, and TV host Jacques Pépin has a tried-and-true method for quickly peeling, crushing, and chopping garlic in a matter of minutes—no crusher required. Despite the Internet hacks singing praise of using metal bowls, microwaves, and a very dubious-looking knife trick to easily peel garlic, Pépin’s classic method relies simply on a knife and cutting board. Check out his step-by-step process below: 

Step one: the initial garlic peel

Pépin starts off by taking the head of garlic and using his thumb to deftly peel off the large layers of exterior skin, moving around the circumference until the flaky white pieces are removed.  

Step two: separate the cloves

Instead of removing each clove individually, he puts the garlic head on the cutting board and hits it on the side with the palm of his hand. This is a helpful trick for separating the cloves, especially if the garlic is a bit dry, Pépin notes. 

Step three: remove the stems

Before you peel each clove, Pépin recommends removing the stem end first with a knife. Then, take the flat side of your knife, place it on top of the garlic clove, and lightly tap with your palm—this removes the skin easily.  

Step four: you can use a vegetable peeler to cut it…

Thinly slicing the cloves with a vegetable peeler creates little garlic “flakes,” as Pépin says, which he says are great to use when you’re sautéing pasta.

…but crushing it and then dicing it is the conventional way

Place the flat side of your knife on the clove and hit it with your palm, and then move forward along the garlic. This releases the essential oils.

Step five: rock it 

Once the garlic is crushed, keep the palm of your hand on the cutting board and rock back and forth quickly to chop the garlic. Make sure to take a break and clean the knife—aka wipe it on the cutting board—a few times while you’re cutting the garlic. 

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