Christopher Ranch

  (Gilroy, California)
Gilroy's finest. Family owned since 1956
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National Garlic Day Lasts A Lifetime

April is hoppin’ with holidays (I count April 14, the day I send my taxes in, as one) but it’s April 19, that stands out at Christopher Ranch because it’s National Garlic Day. We didn’t create it – every day is Garlic Day here – but if we had, it’s safe to say that we would have picked a warm, sunny harvest day in July* or maybe Don or Bill Christopher’s birthday, but a cool, crisp, damp day in April, probably not.

I have searched for the origin of NatGarDay and come up empty. I can’t find the tiniest clue as to the who, the what or the where of it – but no matter. We know why there’s a day set aside. The aroma of garlic is enough to give us pause, but the flavor… well, it’s certainly worth a 24 hour observance, if not more. Gilroy’s unofficial holiday, the Gilroy Garlic Festival, is a three day allium-a-thon, and I have to remark that the Christopher Family has dedicated a lifetime (and more) to garlic.

Although one day of national recognition doesn’t seem like enough, we’ll take it, because we never pass up an opportunity to put garlic in the spotlight, extol its virtues and savor its flavorful goodness. California Garlic, we salute you today, tomorrow, on April 19, and will continue to do so throughout an exquisitely delicious lifetime.

*Garlic FYI: All California Grown Garlic is harvested in the summer months from June to August.


Aloha Garli-Garli Chicken

When toying with the idea of taking a hula class (why, you ask – why not, I say!) a slip of the touch on my iPad brought me to a recipe that had nothing to do with dancing but everything to do with Hawaii – Huli-Huli Chicken. Legend has it that this Hawaiian classic was created in 1955, by a man named Ernest Morgado. His teriyaki style dish was so wonderful that it became an instant hit at a local farmers’ barbecue and then quickly became the signature Hawaii fundraiser food, bringing in thousands of dollars for schools and other organizations.

Huli is the Hawaiian word for “turn” and since the chicken was usually cooked between two grills that had to be flipped over, it was christened Huli-Huli Chicken. Mr. Morgado trademarked the name so we can’t use it here, and his original recipe is top secret but, thank you internet, there are many huli-huli- style recipes out there. None of the recipes I’ve seen has enough garlic in it anyway, so with a tip of the garlic bulb to Hawaii, here’s Christopher Ranch’s version which I affectionately call…


2           frying chickens – halved or quartered

3           tbls. peanut oil

10        cloves Christopher Ranch California Garlic – chopped

1           tbls. grated fresh ginger

1/3       cup catsup

1/3       cup soy sauce

¼          cup brown sugar

¼          cup pineapple juice

¼          cup sherry

2           tbls. Worcestershire sauce

1 – 2     pinches red pepper flakes

¼         cup fresh lemon juice

¼         cup pineapple chunks (optional)

Grill Method:

Marinate chicken for at least 2 hours. Brush the chicken with the remaining marinade while grilling, and give the chicken a huli at intervals.

Stovetop Method:

Heat oil in large skillet and brown chicken well on all sides, adding garlic and ginger toward the end. Blend next 8 ingredients and add to chicken. Cook, covered, over medium heat turning (there’s that huli) occasionally until chicken is done and sauce has been reduced somewhat. Watch very carefully so that the sauce does not burn or boil away. The chicken should be slightly glazed, and there should be a bit of sauce left to serve with the chicken. Add pineapple chunks at the end of cooking if desired. Serve with rice.

There are many variations of this dish and ingredients and amounts can vary depending on individual tastes. Some add shoyu, chicken broth, white wine, rice wine vinegar and chili sauce so don’t be afraid to add your own special touch to this recipe. And, for a true taste of Hawaii, I recommend doing the hula while you huli… Aloha!


Bye, Bye, Baby (Garlic)

With a heavy heart, I must report that Christopher Ranch will no longer be growing, packing or shipping Green Garlic. Green garlic is an extremely labor intensive crop from the planting, to the harvesting, to the marketing, and although we nurtured and cared deeply for our “baby” for the last 12 months, it became increasingly difficult to reconcile the costs involved in production. Eating green garlic, however, was effortless and that experience we will truly miss. By way of consolation, Christopher Ranch still has 60 million pounds of fresh, heirloom California garlic to offer you each year including our peeled and roasted garlic, and jarred garlic products.  I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to feel better already…

To further ease the blow, here’s my favorite all-time garlic recipe containing enough garlic to knock the melancholy right out of you. Don’t be thrown off by the fragrance of it when cooking – it’s so worth the few minutes of “what’s that smell?” in your kitchen. This fabulous chicken dish was created by Kelly Greene, and was unanimously chosen as the First Place Winner in the very first Gilroy Garlic Festival Recipe Contest and Cook-off.  I’d be willing to bet that it will take first place in your list of favorite recipes as well.  Ajo accolades to Kelly for this amazing dish.


1           3 1/2    lb. frying chicken, cut into serving size pieces, or the equivalent in chicken parts of your choice

3           tbls. peanut oil

1           bulb (not clove) fresh garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped

2           small dried hot red peppers (optional)

3/4       cup distilled white vinegar

1/4        cup soy sauce

3            tbls. honey

Heat oil in large, heavy skillet and brown chicken well on all sides, adding garlic and peppers toward the end. Add remaining ingredients and cook over medium high heat until chicken is done and sauce has been reduced somewhat. This will not take long, less than 10 minutes. If you are cooking both white and dark meat, remove white meat first, so it does not dry out. Watch very carefully so that the sauce does not burn or boil away. There should be a quantity of sauce left to serve with the chicken, and the chicken should appear slightly glazed. Serve with Chinese noodles, pasta or rice.

Garlicia’s recommendations:  use Christopher Ranch California Garlic, of course, and double the sauce because it’s soooooo garliciously good.  Enjoy!


Christopher Ranch Garlic FAQ

On any given day, I get several questions on the care and feeding of garlic. Most consumers know the basics of garlic “how to” but if you’re not quite sure or you’re a novice in the ways of garlic (yes, there are a few of you out there…) here are the answers to some of our most frequent queries.

•WHAT IS GARLIC?  Garlic has been called many things throughout the ages, e.g. the “stinking rose”, the “king of seasonings”, but it is sometimes put in the spice or herb category. The dictionary defines spice as a pungently aromatic vegetable substance that adds zest, flavor and interest to food. Sounds right so far… An herb is defined as a soft-stemmed plant that usually withers and dies each year, an often-pleasant smelling (we think so!) plant used in medicine or cooking. Again, that sounds right… Well, both definitions work for me, but garlic is above all a vegetable. After much thought, however, I think I’ve come up with the best description of all: garlic is in a class by itself!

•HOW DO I STORE FRESH GARLIC BULBS?  Keep fresh bulbs in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place. Garlic needs air circulation so store it in an open container, basket, net bag or open cardboard box. A small wicker basket is ideal for storing garlic conveniently on a kitchen countertop as long as it’s not near heat or moisture (like the oven or sink) or in the sun. Refrigeration is also an option but store garlic in an open container, keep it dry and do not store in a plastic bag. Garlicia’s option: don’t store it, use it!

•HOW SHOULD PEELED GARLIC BE STORED?  Peeled garlic must be constantly refrigerated at cold temps – 34º to 38º – for best storage. Under ideal conditions (cold temps and no break in the cold chain), it can stay fresh for several weeks (more or less), but look for the “best by” date on the bag when purchasing. As long as peeled cloves are not moldy, “slick”, mushy or overly fragrant, they’re good to use even past the expiration date.

•CAN I FREEZE PEELED GARLIC?  You can freeze peeled garlic but it changes the consistency. Frozen garlic can turn mushy when thawed, but the good news is that most of the flavor remains. It’s best used in sauces or dishes that don’t need chunks or pieces of garlic. Store in the Christopher Ranch bag or any airtight plastic or vacuum-sealed bag (get all the air out first) and freeze for 3 to 6 months. It may be necessary to double bag it so the aroma does not “travel”.

That’s our garlic primer for the day, my friends, and if you know someone who’s garlic-challenged, please pass on the info. Knowledge, like garlic, should be shared!


Garlic Scores at the Super Bowl

With last week’s rant about my tiny kitchen fresh in my mind, how we’re going to throw a Super Bowl party in a confined space has been gnawing at me. In my car yesterday, a solution finally hit me… tailgate party! At home! In the yard! The yard happens to be bigger than our entire house, so a tailgater makes sense. It all depends on the weather, of course, but we don’t get snow (my heart goes out to those across the country who are buried up to their rooftops) and rain is not in our forecast. One small roadblock is hooking up the TV outside, but if the neighbors can do it, it must be do-able. I figure if we get the barbee going, ice the beer and hook up the tube, we won’t be alone out there…  Just bring your jacket and your appetite.

Reading about the $55 million spent on food by the 100 million plus Americans watching the Super Bowl, it appears that game day food is more important than the game. This may not be true if you’re in a football pool, but when a lucky play in the final seconds of the first half knocks you out of the cash, you might want to wrap yourself in the comfort of the Super Sunday favorites: nachos, guacamole, buffalo wings, pizza, chile beans, salsa, beer brats, etc. Not the most nutritious of fare, but the one highlight is that they’re usually loaded with garlic (or they should be) giving us a few extra nutrition points and scoring a winning touchdown in flavor. So indulge if you must, add more garlic and stop by for some ribs. Hope your team wins!


3            lbs. baby back pork ribs

1            tbls. lemon pepper

1            cup Dijon mustard

8            cloves Christopher Ranch California Garlic – peeled and crushed

1/4         cup soy sauce

1/2         cup white wine

1/4         cup fresh cilantro, Italian parsley or green garlic – minced

Season ribs with lemon pepper, then barbecue or bake until almost done. Mix mustard, garlic, soy sauce, wine and baste ribs for remaining cooking time. Sprinkle with cilantro, parsley or green garlic just before serving.


Little Kitchen, Big Crock Pot

I used to love to cook, but with one square foot (seriously…) of counter space in a kitchen fit for Lilliput, the bloom is off that rose. I dream of a kitchen with miles of marble surfaces lined with the latest appliances so I can easily prepare a gourmet meal, lay out a buffet for 20 and blend margaritas while my guests freely wander around clucking about the ambiance, the vaulted ceiling and the 3 foot garlic braid hanging over the wine fridge (dual zone!)

Ah, well, until my dream kitchen materializes, my best friend continues to be a crock-pot (we’ll discuss take-out another time.) It solves a few of my space issues and serves up some truly yummy slow-cooker meals with a minimum of work. Granted, I still have to shop for ingredients and prep them, but after the legwork is done, I can easily reap the tasty benefits without the regrets of hitting the fast food line.

Here’s one of my favorite slow-cooker dishes that I’ve updated with Christopher Ranch’s new Peeled Pearls, Cipollines and Shallots. If you already have a fabulous kitchen, don’t let it stop you from pulling out the crock-pot. I know you have one stashed somewhere.



2           to 3 lbs. boneless beef chuck roast

12         oz. fresh mushrooms – sliced

6           oz. (about 12) Christopher Ranch Peeled Pearl or Cipolline Onions or combination of both

4           Christopher Ranch Peeled Shallots

4           Christopher Ranch Peeled Garlic Cloves

5           carrots – peeled and sliced in 1” chunks

4           celery stalks – cut in half

1           can stewed tomatoes

1           to 2 tbls. beef bouillon powder

1           can cream of mushroom soup

1           cup water

1           cup red wine

1/4       tsp. crushed celery seed

In large skillet, brown roast on both sides if desired (but not necessary.)  Line bottom of large slow-cooker with celery stalks and place roast on top. Sprinkle whole onions, shallots, garlic cloves and sliced carrots over roast. Blend remaining ingredients and pour over all. Set slow cooker on low, cover and cook for 6 to 8 hours. Serve over rice. Serves about 6. Note: bouillon powder is salty so no extra salt may be necessary. Always taste first


Garlic Chicken Soup- Nothing to Sneeze At!

Happy (cough, cough, sneeze, sneeze) New Year! Seems cold season is upon us, my dears, and whether you believe garlic has the power to stifle a cold or not, it certainly won’t hurt, especially when it’s teamed with chicken soup. There are studies that say both chicken soup and garlic contain anti-inflammatory properties that may help prevent a cold’s miserable side effects, and if miserable describes the way you’re feeling, why not try a little hot, garlicky therapy.

If you don’t feel like cooking (who does when they’re sick) just add 2 or 3 tsp. of fresh chopped CR California Garlic to your favorite canned or packaged chicken soup while it’s heating for a double whammy of a cold buster – or just to make “store bought” taste yummier. If you can talk the significant other into cooking or can even drag yourself to the stove (it’s warm there…) here’s a recipe that’s nothing to sneeze at. It was adapted from the “Food Pharmacy” by Jean Carper.


28         ounces of chicken broth

1            bulb garlic (about 15 cloves)

5            sprigs parsley, minced

6            sprigs cilantro, minced

1            teaspoon lemon pepper

1            teaspoon minced mint leaves

1            teaspoon minced basil leaves

1            teaspoon curry powder

Peel the garlic cloves and place them with the other ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil and simmer 30 minutes. Inhale the fumes of the soup during preparation. Drink the soup, one cup at the beginning of each meal, until it’s finished. (The soup can be strained after simmering if one doesn’t care to eat the herbs.) Add chile pepper flakes or vegetables to taste.

DID YOU KNOW? Here are a few garlic tidbits to go with your soup:

• There is an ancient Telugu proverb that says: Garlic is as good as ten mothers. (Telugu is one of the languages of India.)

• A 17th century writer summed it up with this statement: “Our doctor is a clove of garlic.”

• In 1858, Louis Pasteur noted that bacteria died when they were doused with garlic.

• At the turn of the century, garlic was the drug of choice for tuberculosis.

• Albert Schweitzer used garlic to treat cholera and typhus.

• During World War II, British physicians treated battle wounds with garlic.

• Several studies say that garlic is packed with chemical compounds that can boost the immune system.

• Garlic is said to have a soothing effect on the respiratory system.

• The average clove contains five calories, vitamins B1, 2 and 3 and vitamin C, plus the minerals calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc and germanium.

Please note: the above information is not intended as medical advice. For health information, diagnosis and treatment, consult your physician – and get well soon!


Garlic: 'Tis the Seasoning For Holiday Stress

My boss always says “garlic just makes people happy”. Well, we have only to look at the Gilroy Garlic Festival for evidence of this because, in a sea of 100,000 people, everybody looks mighty blissful when polishing off all manner of garlic goodies. I’ve also been to dinner parties where garlic has brightened up the conversation and camaraderie as well as the food. There may not be unequivocal proof that garlic has the magical power to make people happy, but during the holidays when stress can reach epic proportions, a nice meal generously laced with garlic, can certainly turn a frown upside down.

I try to keep my stress level low during this time of year by being well organized, eating well-balanced meals, getting lots of sleep and meditating but, of course, I’m lying through my teeth! I cook when I can, shop when I can, clean when I can, and the meditation… I mostly crumble in a heap in front of the tube with visions of garlic bulbs dancing in my head. That’s when I know it’s time to put my favorite stress-buster, CR California Garlic, to work. Here are a few easy and timesaving ways to raise your spirits, induce a smile (maybe a few ho, ho, ho’s) and give even the simplest food the gift of good flavor.


1. Buy a lovely pot roast, make a dozen slits all over it with a knife and stuff each opening with a peeled garlic clove. This not only smells heavenly when baking but it tastes pretty darn awesome. Bonus stress reliever: you might have leftovers for sandwiches the next day. (Starting to feel relaxed?)

2. Buy bagged salad or make your own, but before putting the greens in the bowl, peel a clove of fresh garlic and rub down the inside of the bowl with it; and/or smash a clove on the cutting board with the flat side of a knife, remove the skin, chop fine and add to your favorite bottled dressing and blend well. (Your breathing has slowed down considerably.)

3. Nestle whole garlic bulbs around a chicken and bake. Squish the baked cloves on French bread slices or slather on the chicken before serving. (Your mouth is turning up at the corners .)

4. Add fresh chopped garlic to drive-thru burgers and fries, pizza, deli sandwiches and salads, canned soup or chili beans to redeem these guilty pleasures. (A warm feeling washes over you.)

5. Pop CR Pickled Garlic Cloves for an instant party in your mouth. (Ohyummm, you’ve reached nirvana…)

However you celebrate, sprinkle a little happiness – I mean garlic – on your food and have a holly, jolly holiday!


Jingle Bulbs, Jingle Bulbs, Garlic All The Way!

One of my favorite maxims, “a day without garlic… tasteless!” is especially true for the holly days. What would Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza/Boxing Day (please forgive me if I’ve forgotten one – and, no, Festivus does not count) be like without garlic to sweeten – as in enhance – your favorite holiday fare? Hold the garlic and we’re talking mundane roast beef, weak salsa, lifeless vegetables and ordinary mashed potatoes. Your menu would be, in Garlicia terms, humdrum with no yum.

Well, bah, humdrum! In the coming days, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite party foods, liberally laced with garlic, to help make your holidays jingle with flavor. Today’s recipes are “snackers” to keep guests occupied until the main event/dish commences. Best served with a chorus of carols and a carafe of wine…


30         Christopher Ranch Roasted Garlic Cloves

2            lbs. hamburger

1            lb. Italian sausage

1/3        cup seasoned bread crumbs

1            tbls. catsup

1            tbls. Worcestershire sauce

1/2        tsp. each salt & pepper

1            tbls. Italian seasoning

1            tbls. finely chopped fresh parsley

Pinch of chile flakes

1/4        cup Parmesan cheese

2            eggs

Take Italian sausage out of casing. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except garlic cloves until very well blended. Take 1 to 2 tbls. of mixture and start to form into a ball. Press thumb into ball and put one garlic clove in center, then seal mixture around it to form a 1” meatball. Brown meatballs lightly in small amount of oil, transfer to a baking dish sprayed with Pam. Bake at 375º for 20 minutes. To serve: place in warming dish with a favorite sauce, i.e. marinara, barbecue, if desired or offer sauces on the side. Makes about 30 meatballs.


1            tbls. vegetable oil or 2 tbls. butter

2             cups raw pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds, almonds or a combination your favorites

6             or more cloves Christopher Ranch California Garlic – minced

1            tsp. soy sauce

Heat oil or butter in large frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic and lightly sauté for a few seconds before adding nuts. Add nuts, stir and continue stirring until most of the nuts are golden. Remove from heat and add a light sprinkle of salt if desired. Wait a couple of minutes and add soy sauce and blend. Serve warm or store in a zip lock bag or a container with a tight lid.


Thanks, garlic!

Much has been written and many movies made about the first Thanksgiving but in my somewhat sparse research on the day, I can find no mention of GARLIC!  I searched several websites for a correlation between garlic and Thanksgiving #1 but, sadly, the food at Plymouth Plantation circa 1621 was, most likely, devoid of any real flavor – at least garlic-wise.

Most sources say the first Thanksgiving was a harvest festival also celebrating the pilgrims’ survival of their first brutal winter in a new land. The celebration lasted three days with enough food for 53 pilgrims and 90 Native Americans, and their feast consisted mainly of fowl (wild turkeys were plentiful), venison, fish, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin and squash. There was no garlic and, also, no butter as the pilgrims brought no livestock on the ship over – bad news for the dairy lovers in the group.

I can only sigh when thinking about turkey, lobster, clams, etc. with no garlic butter, and I’m wondering how long it took for garlic to find its way onto the tables of Massachusetts residents. Perhaps the Native Americans had already cultivated an allium relative but weren’t ready to give away all their cooking secrets right at the get go.

Evidently, it would be at least another century before garlic went mainstream in some areas of the new world and now, 250 years later, I would like to give thanks to whoever graced that very first dish with garlic. Whether it was a stroke of luck or sheer genius, it must have been a most memorable meal…

Happy Thanksgiving!


Garlic and the Flavorful Foursome

Oh, yes, without a doubt my favorite headline of the week was: “Martha Stewart Liquors Up Turkey Before The Slaughter!” Have to admire Martha’s somewhat humane way of making the Thanksgiving experience less painful for the birds, but if she really wants them to feel (and taste) better, she’ll massage them with lots of fresh, chopped Christopher Ranch California garlic before they head for their place at the table.

While Martha’s at it, I hope she nestles some peeled Christopher Ranch garlic cloves, shallots and pearl onions around them to make them comfy and savoricious – that’s savory and delicious – I know it’s not a real word but it so aptly describes the flavor of this trio of alliums when tossed in a bit of olive oil and baked around poultry or pot roast. Make it a foursome with Christopher Ranch cipolline onions, too. Any turkey would be proud to go out in style with this much flavor and richness.

If you opt for a little more variety than just olive oil, try this blend of alliums, herbs and root vegetables with your Thanksgiving turkey or as a robust side dish.


1            lb. carrots – peeled and sliced in 1” slices

1            lb. potatoes – scrubbed and cut into chunks

10         or more cloves Christopher Ranch Peeled California Garlic

8           Christopher Ranch Peeled Shallots

8           Christopher Ranch Peeled Pearl Onions

8           Christopher Ranch Peeled Cipolline Onions

2            tbls. extra virgin olive oil

1            tbls. butter – melted

1            tbls. fresh rosemary – finely minced

2            tsp. fresh sage – finely minced

2            tsp. dried oregano – crushed

1            tbls. fresh basil – finely minced

Preheat oven to 450º.  Blend oil, butter and herbs. Place all vegetables and alliums in a large baking pan, drizzle with oil mixture and toss until all are well covered. Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for another 15 to 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender and carmelized. Use a spatula to remove mixture so you can get all the crispy, carmelized parts out of the pan. Great vegetarian meal or side dish. Vegetables and alliums can also be baked around meat or poultry in the same pan.



On the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we would like to acknowledge the people of New Orleans and surrounding areas for their courage, strength and tenacity in getting their communities and lives back on the road to recovery. Much work is still needed, but their spirit shines through in their rebuilding efforts and their drive to preserve their society, culture and, most definitely, their food.

Although I hate to admit it, a lot of my experience with New Orleans style food has been limited to the use of Tony Chachere’s seasoning, and if you haven’t tried it, cher, do, but if you’re also looking for some classic Cajun or Creole dishes, check out one of my favorite websites, There are recipes for Shrimp Creole and Etouffé, Red Beans and Rice, and other traditional fare, but what got my mind and mouth going was the Chicken Fricassee. Even though it’s a Louisiana staple, I still think of it as the dish immortalized by pregnant Marge Gunderson in Fargo (the movie) who devoured a plateful of it at every roadside buffet. Never did a dish look so warm and satisfying…

Even the word fricassee makes your mouth water, and this recipe from Nola will have you channeling your inner Marge. I am shamelessly copying it here with much deference to the author. The only suggestions I have (no disrespect intended) are to increase the garlic by at least one tablespoon, and to add ½ cup of chopped Christopher Ranch Green Garlic* as the final garnish. Ah C’est Bon!


5  – 6  lbs. chicken legs and thigh quarters

For browning the chicken:

1  cup flour seasoned

2  tbsp. kosher salt

Few turns of black pepper

Healthy pinch of cayenne

For the Fricassee:

1  cup lard (home rendered), bacon drippings, duck fat or vegetable oil (if you must)

¾   cup flour

2  cups onion, chopped

1  cup celery, chopped

½   cup green bell pepper, chopped

½   cup mushrooms, sliced

2  tbsp garlic*, finely chopped

½   cup dry white wine

1  quart chicken stock, preferably homemade

1  bay leaf

1  bundle of fresh thyme, tied together with butcher’s twine

Kosher salt, black pepper, cayenne to taste

2  tbsp. fresh thyme, taken off of the stem and chopped

1  tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce

1  tbsp. hot sauce

½   cup green onions, thinly sliced

1 recipe Creole Boiled Rice

Heat the lard, or whichever fat you chose to use, over medium high heat until a small sprinkle of flour quickly sizzles when tossed in. While the fat is heating mix together the flour, salt, black pepper and cayenne, dredge the leg & thigh quarters in the mixture and shake off any excess, set aside on a plate. When the fat is hot, brown the chicken until golden on both sides, do not cook all the way through, set aside. Mix together the onions, celery, and bell pepper (holy trinity) in a small bowl.

When the chicken is browned and set aside, pour off 1/2 cup of the fat, leaving about 1/2 cup of it in the pan. Over medium heat gradually whisk in the 3/4 cup of flour until incorporated and slightly thick, stir constantly until a roux the color of peanut butter is achieved, then stir in 3/4 of the holy trinity, mushrooms, and a pinch of Kosher salt, turn the heat to low and cook for 8-10 minutes more, stirring slowly but constantly.

Add the white wine and increase the heat to medium, cook 5 minutes more. Whisk in the chicken stock very gradually to avoid lumps. When it is all incorporated bring the mixture to a full boil to bring the flour to it’s full thickening power, then reduce the sauce to medium low. Stir in the remaining trinity, garlic, bay leaf, bundled thyme, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and season to taste with salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Submerge the chicken in the sauce cover and simmer for about 2 1/2 hours or until falling off of the bone tender. Remove the bundled thyme and bay leaf and stir in the chopped thyme. Adjust the seasonings if necessary.

Serve the chicken with Creole Boiled Rice, and a generous portion of the sauce topped with green onions*. If you like, the sauce or gravy for this dish could be finished with heavy cream, sour cream, or creme fraiche. This would also go great with dumplings to replace the rice.

Note: It is important to have the sauce for this dish almost fully seasoned before adding the chicken, because you want the chicken to take on all the flavor of the sauce. Nola suggests slightly under-seasoning with the salt as the sauce will reduce a bit. Serves 4.


Garlic makes your tongue smile


Christopher Ranch’s garlic harvest is continuing, and the precious cargo is arriving by truckloads at our Gilroy “home ranch” to be graded, packed and shipped out. You can always tell it’s harvest time when the road into the ranch is strewn with the garlic chaff that flies out of the trucks. We’re at the height of our favorite season when it starts snowing garlic skins.

Garlic isn’t the only thing we’re harvesting right now. Sweet corn, yellow and white, is coming in from our fields – and how sweet it is. It’s so tasty, in fact, that you can hold the butter and save the calories! We’re also harvesting our crisp and crunchy red and green bell peppers. Garlic, corn and bells – what a perfect trio of summer flavors.

Speaking of flavor, it was the hot topic at the recent Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Foodservice Conference in Monterey, CA. Our attending sales squad, Amber (L.A. Division), Justin (Gilroy) and Anthony (New Jersey) listened to discussions focusing on flavor, safety, sustainability and consumer education, topics that Christopher Ranch is deeply invested in and has been for many years. Amber reports that PMA President, Bryan Silbermann even opened the session talking about the importance of flavor, but her favorite quote of the day (and mine) came from another attendee, “we need to make our tongues smile.” We couldn’t agree more. Flavor is what our California Grown Heirloom Garlic is all about.

Leaders of Pack: Anthony, Amber, Justin run PMA 5K, Monterey, CA

In closing PMA news… Kudos to Amber, Justin and Anthony for running the PMA FIT 5K race that kicked off the PMA Conference. Justin and Amber both finished 3rd overall in the men’s and women’s divisions, respectively, and Anthony finished in the top 25. Congrats to all for going the distance! Further kudos to Justin for “making tongues smile” with his Green Garlic Vinaigrette – it was a hit at the conference.

Our Green Garlic packaging has been updated with large lettering to make it easier to find in the produce section. How-to-use info and Justin’s recipe are on the back of the bag. If you don’t see it at your local market, please ask your produce manager about our new Baby!

We’ve also been getting lots of thumbs up for our new Peeled Garlic bags. They’re recyclable, re-sealable and tamper proof. The best part: they contain 100% natural California Grown Christopher Ranch Garlic with no additives or preservatives. FYI: always keep Peeled Garlic constantly refrigerated at cold temps (34º to 38 is best) for longest storage life.

Well, so much for writer’s block. I’ve gone on way too long, but when it comes to garlic, I just can’t say enough.  Now, go out there, pick up some Christopher Ranch California Garlic (Green or otherwise) and make your tongue smile!


Gilroy Garlic Festival Over, but the Flavor Lingers

1st Place Cook-Off Winner, Margee Berry beat out 7 other contestants with her "Warm Weather Watermelon Crabmeat Kissed South Seas Soup."

The Gilroy Garlic Festival has been over for a week, but I still miss it… no more garlic scampi, no more wine tent, no more Elvis (E loves a good festival), no more running into long lost friends, no more selling California garlic braids hand over fist in the CR booth, and no more banter by Chef Fabio Viviani on the Cook-off Stage, who was in stellar form again this year throwing anecdotes, commentary and vegetables (you had to be there) at a standing room only crowd. 98,000 garmands* and I had a glorious time!  (*garmand: Garlicia’s word for someone who’s a glutton for garlic as opposed to garmets who are a taste more subdued about their obsession.)

The festival, as usual, was alive with happy people, great music and beautiful arts and crafts but, as always, it was all about the food. Throngs lined up at dozens of food booths, and the Cook-Off area overflowed with crowds waiting (with garlic breath) to see who would win the cooking contests. The stage bustled for three days with incredible chefs, both amateur and professional, whipping up stunning dishes in the open-air kitchen. Like all the GGF chefs before them, these were serious garlic lovers who blew everyone away with their imagination, focus and, most of all, their passion for food and cooking. The chefs and the Gilroy Garlic Festival never cease to amaze and inspire me.

Roggie, Garlicia and GARZILLA - fired up and ready for the garty, uh, garlic party!

Check out and (click on NEWS then Garlic Festival) for Cook-Off and Showdown winners, recipes, videos and festival information. You just might be inspired to join us at next year’s festival…


1st Place Winner – Gilroy Garlic Festival Cook-Off – Serves six


5      cups cubed small seedless watermelon, rind removed

1       tbls. mild olive oil

1/4   cup chopped shallots

2       tsp. minced peeled ginger

2       tsp. minced trimmed fresh lemongrass*

1        tsp. minced Thai chili or other hot chili, such as Serrano

1        tbls. minced Gilroy garlic

1        cup fresh squeezed blood orange juice

2        tsp. rice vinegar

1        tsp. fish sauce

1/2    tsp. sea salt

Crabmeat topping:

2         cups cooked lump crabmeat

1/4     cup finely chopped green onion

3          tbls. chopped cilantro

2          tbls. chopped fresh mint

2          tsp. fresh lime juice

4          tbls. grated radish

1.         In a blender, purée the watermelon, then transfer to a large bowl. Set aside.

2.         Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and add shallots, ginger, lemongrass and chili; sauté 5 minutes. Add garlic, sauté 1 minute more. Transfer to blender along with juice, vinegar, fish sauce and salt; purée until smooth.

3.         Stir mixture into watermelon mixture, then strain and press through a fine sieve, discarding solids. Chill soup at least 1 hour to blend flavors. Soup can be served at room temperature or slightly chilled.

CRABMEAT TOPPING: Toss crabmeat with the green onion, cilantro, mint and lime juice.

TO SERVE: Ladle soup into bowls, then top each with a mound of the crabmeat mixture in the center. Garnish crabmeat with grated radish.

*Note: Trim root end off fresh lemongrass stalk, then remove two outer leaves. Finely mince with either a micro plane zester or knife. Ginger and garlic can also be minced on a micro plane.

A Quiz: Are You Hooked on the Gilroy Garlic Festival?

The Gilroy Garlic Festival is here and you’re still irresistibly drawn to it every year for reasons you may not even comprehend. This simple test will confirm if YOU are hooked on the Gilroy Garlic Festival:

1. You’ve arrived at the Festival and it’s 101º out there so you:

a. Go home

b. Consume mass quantities of Fruit Friz and Garlic Ice Cream

c. Cruise the Mist Tent and then hang out in the Wine Tent

d. Enter the Garlic Topping contest to take your mind off the heat

2. The Pyro Chefs in Gourmet Alley have a 5 foot blaze leaping out of the calamari pans and you:

a. Run for your life and jump in the creek (it’s probably dry so look out…)

b. Take lots of pictures to send to the relatives back home

c. Take bets on which chef will singe their eyebrows

d. Scream WOOHOO and stare in amazement like a first time tourist

3. You’re waiting in line for the Scampi in Garlic Butter and you:

a. Take a Pepcid Complete because you already have heartburn

b. Become best friends with the person behind you

c. Become engaged to the person behind you

d. Break up with the person behind you (but refuse to give up your place in line…)

4. You go the Great Garlic Cook-Off  and tell everyone within earshot that you:

a. Think the contestants use too much garlic

b. Think they don’t use enough garlic

c. Wish you were one of the cook-off judges

d. Have tried every one of the winning recipes from every Cook-Off

5. The band is starting in the Amphitheatre and you:

a. Try to head away from the crowd and all that noise

b. Get in the beer line fast so you can have a cold one with the music

c. Beat everyone there because you got online yesterday to see who was playing and when

d. Are the first one on the dance floor, waving wildly at your friends to “come on down”

6. You go to the Christopher Ranch Garlic booth and you:

a. Buy one bulb of garlic

b. Get into a heavy discussion with the staff about the benefits of California garlic

c. Buy the biggest braid they have so you can wear it around your neck all day

d. Buy as much garlic as you can possibly carry hoping it will last you at least a month

7. You’re leaving the Festival grounds and you’re:

a. Hot, tired, hungry and cranky

b. Hot, tired, full and happy

c. Hot, tired, full, happy and broke

d. Hot (you probably lost 5 pounds!), tired (you’ll sleep good tonight!), full (yay, you don’t have to cook dinner!), happy (you loved every minute!) and broke (you sure got some cool stuff!). You’re also carrying a bag of pepper steak sandwiches for later…

Your Score: If you picked only A. statements, you are not hooked and live a bland life free from garlic breath. (You’re safe for another year unless your new neighbor is a vampire… Blaahaha!) If you picked B.,C.,and especially D., you’re addicted for sure… to fun, friendly people and great, garlicky food. Your tastebuds are poised and ready for the gastronomic gala that is the Gilroy Garlic Festival. I’ll see you there!

Breathfully yours, Garlicia

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