In all of these preparations, smashed garlic cloves are remarkably flexible, absorbing high heat and in turn giving off subtle but substantial flavor.

In roasts: Marinate a whole bird overnight with a handful of the smashed cloves, some lemon zest, rosemary sprigs and good olive oil. Set the chicken along with its marinade flavorings over a bed of potato and onion wedges and roast until browned and cooked through. The chicken will have a wonderful garlicky perfume while the cloves will become golden and spreadable.

In stews: Start the base by gently browning the smashed cloves in oil or butter and then sweat them with larger aromatic vegetables such as onions, carrots and celery.

Quick meals: Speed up a chicken braise by using breast meat along with the smashed garlic. Steep the cloves in oil and butter, then brown the chicken pieces as well as a medley of mushrooms. Chicken broth and cream pull the dish together and give the dish a rich, slow-cooked feel.

Stir-fries: Add the smashed garlic along with other aromatics like shallots or thinly sliced ginger and saute until the vegetables brown. Add some broth or a flavorful liquid, cover and cook for a few more minutes until the vegetables are crisp-tender.

-- Tony Rosenfeld