Saturday, July 1, 2017


I’ve got garlic! The garden produced a modest heap of the flavor bulbs. I’m celebrating the harvest by cooking al ajillo. Ajillo is the diminutive of ajo, garlic, meaning “a little garlic,” you know, just a smidgin.

A heap of freshly harvested garlic. After it dries in the sun a few days, I trim the roots and stems and store the bulbs for use.

In Spanish, the diminutive, of course, means “small.” But it can also denote affection or a tongue-in-cheek opposite exaggeration. So, you say you’re using "just a little garlic," when actually it's lots and lots!

Today I’m making lamb chops sizzled with just a little (lots) garlic. (Other recipes al ajillo are linked below.)  I had these delectable chops in Las Pedroñeras, a La Mancha town that bills itself as the capital of garlic. There I learned that garlic over time gradually loses its punch. So when made with July’s newly picked garlic, the ration of cloves is minimal (one or two per lamb chop). But later in the year, when the flavor is milder, the number is increased (3 or 4 cloves per chop).

Lamb chops browned in olive oil with whole cloves of garlic are finished with lemon juice.

My fresh garlic keeps well for several months. Store garlic in a reasonably cool, well ventilated place away from direct light. Eventually, in the natural cycle of things, the garlic will begin to sprout. Then it's finished. Mine will be used up long before that.

In this recipe, the cloves of garlic are not peeled. They are lightly crushed, just to split the skins, and fried with the chops in sizzling oil. The skins protect the garlic flesh from scorching.

I like thick (1 inch) loin chops best. But, all I could get were small ones. These cook in an instant. Really. One minute per side, in a very hot skillet, just until browned. If you’re using thick chops, moderate the heat and cook them just until browned on both sides. That way they’ll stay a little pink and juicy on the inside. Serve the browned garlic with the chops. Peel the cloves or not. Let each person decide whether or not to eat them.

Serve whole garlic cloves with the chops.

Lamb chops and garlic are plated on a bed of quinoa with vegetables. Rice or cous cous or, Spanish style, fries, are good alternatives. Perhaps a La Mancha  tempranillo to accompany the dish.

Lamb Chops Sizzled with Garlic
Chuletas de Cordero al Ajillo

Serves 4.

Ajo morado, purple garlic.
2 pounds lamb chops, (8 to 12 chops, depending on thickness)
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of thyme
10 to 12 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Sprinkle the chops with salt, pepper, and thyme. Using the side of a knife, crush the unpeeled cloves of garlic lightly, just to split the skins.

Crush garlic cloves lightly to split skins.

Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add the lamb chops and garlic. Brown the chops on one side. Turn the chops and the cloves of garlic and brown reverse side.

Remove the chops to a serving platter. Add the water and lemon juice to the remaining oil and garlic. Heat until sizzling. Pour over the chops and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.

Do you dare to eat the whole clove of garlic?

More recipes for using garlic:


  1. No recipe for garlic soup? On our first trip to Spain, driving (long before the highway) from Madrid to Granada, I remember stopping at a roadside place where Sopa de Ajo was on the menu. That's really when I fell in love with Spanish home cooking...

    1. David: How could I possibly have omitted the most obvious? I just added the link to garlic soup recipe and also to ajo blanco, the garlicky white gazpacho.

    2. Better! :-)

  2. Great to see you championing lots of garlic, Janet: love it. And the scad recipe you gave with 12 cloves is delicious, in my opinion. Thank you.

    1. JohnD: You're welcome! I'm a true garlic aficionada!