The name aïoli derives from the provençal ail (garlic) and oli (oil) and can be traced back as far as 1756. It is also known as Pommade du Midi (Cream of the Midi). You’ve got to like garlic to enjoy this recipe. Aïoli can be used as an accompaniment to a variety of different foods such globe artichokes, fish, roast meats and Fondue Bourguignon. It even makes a tasty appetizer when spread on crusty French bread. If you can, try and use fresh garlic (available from June to September), either white, pink or mauve heads. They are slightly milder than their dried counterparts but easier to work with. Rather like horse-chestnuts, they tend to “pop out” of their soft husks and are easier to crush. Aïoli is not a mayonnaise but more like a garlic mash. You’ll find that no matter how much you grind away with the pestle - you’ll still be left with small slivers of garlic. I love this but you may not. Use a good food processor for this part of the preparation if you want something truly smooth. Beware that using less oil (or more garlic cloves) in this recipe will make the aïoli “burn” in your mouth. Garlic has a tendency to be transpired through the pores 24-hrs later. However wonderful this recipe is, I’d still advise caution against eating it prior to any important meeting, special date or interview!
- Category : Sauces & Mayonnaise
- Preparation time : 15 minutes
- Cooking time : none
- No. of servings : 6
- Difficulty : Low
- 6 large cloves of garlic
- 1 large pinch of salt
- 2 egg yolks
- 300 ml virgin olive oil
- 1-2 teaspoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of warm water
- Salt & pepper
First detach the cloves from the head of garlic. Then, with a heavy knife, press down on the cloves to break open the peel. Remove peel and any visible green sprout (pale yellow is fine and can be left) and place the cloves in a mortar. Add a pinch of salt and grind slowly with the pestle until creamy. You might find it easier to clasp both hands around the pestle while working. From time to time, scrape off any cloves mixture stuck on the pestle back into the mortar.
Cut a fresh lemon in half and strain the juice through a small sieve. Set to one side.
Separate the egg yolks, place in a beaker and mix gently with a whisk. Slowly introduce the egg yolks to the cloves, mixing as you do so with either a wire whisk, pestle or wooden spoon. Make sure you mix continuously in the same direction.
Now add in half of the olive oil in a slow, fine stream. We find it easier to lean the neck of bottle on the side of the mortar and let the oil dribble in. Once the first half of the oil is incorporated, add the warm water and the strained lemon juice. You’ll find the aïoli changes to a lighter colour.
Slowly add the rest of the olive oil, whisking quicker as the mixture thickens. Leave the aïoli thick and creamy if it’s going to be used as a dip, but a little thinner if you want it as a sauce. Just add a bit more warm water, one teaspoon at a time, to make it thinner.
Season with pepper; taste and add a touch more salt and/or lemon juice if so required. Then transfer the aïoli to ramakins and pop into the fridge to keep cool until required. You’ll find that aïoli keeps quite well for at least a week if kept in well-sealed “Lock & Lock” plastic containers. These are absolutely great as no smell escapes whatsoever - and no matter how much we love garlic we really don’t want to share the whole fridge with it.
Some recipes include 10ml of white wine vinegar instead of lemon juice, while others use a blend of both. Personally we love lemon juice and would tend to add more rather than less juice.
The traditional tool used to make aïoli is a large mortar and pestle. We used our granite mortar and pestle during the first stage and then a wooden spoon (as opposed to a wire whisk) to help stir during the second stage.
A key to success with aïoli is to work very slowly. It is also important to make sure all your ingredients, including your cooking utensils, be at room temperature as varying temperatures could encourage the sauce to separate.
In the beginning, you’ll find yourself pressing down hard on the mortar, so have it placed on a very solid table or worktop. While pressing the cloves, you’ll experience a slight tingling of the eyes - but nothing like working with onions - and it soon passes.