I don’t know about where you are, but in Auckland (New Zealand) we seem to be just coming off the end of a three year love affair with the garlic mayonnaise, otherwise known as aioli. We’ve been spreading it, dipping it, drizzling it and practically drinking the stuff! It’s been pretty much the only option with frites anywhere you go and even some of the more (how can i put this nicely) “scum-bucket” type of establishments have begun putting this tasty little treat on the menu.
Now, everyone’s got their own way of treating this one, but the recipe below is mine (by various appropriations, credit to all who have added small bits and pieces along the way) I’ve kept it close to my chest now for quite some time now but, seeing as things now seem to be changing in direction within our local industry, I feel I can now safely let this little gem out into the wild.
Oh, a quick note: I’ve lost the charger for my usual camera somewhere so this blog’s images had to be taken with my cellphone (the lovely new blackberry 8100) and tampered with later in photo shop, please excuse the quality (or lack of it), to make up for it, I tried out a new “step-by-step” set of photo instructions for this post. Do let me know what you think!
As you will probably gather, this is an extremely easy recipe, when the instructions are followed correctly, however, the thing that places some aiolis above than others is that time tested mantra of cooks everywhere “the quality of the produce!”. For this reason I have tried to outline what you should look for with each step, in regards to your ingredients. Remember it may cost a wee bit more, but the higher the quality of what you put in – the higher the quality of what you will receive (one of life’s greatest mantras).
- 5 Large eggs
- 1 Decent head of Italian (flat-leaf) parsley (roughly 30gm)
- A small handful of garlic cloves (peeled)
- 30ml Vodka or other white spirit (barring white rum, anything but horrid rum!) [30ml = a double shot]
- 1 Fresh lemon
- 1 litre oil (canola or sunflower is good, definitely not olive or soya)
- A big pinch of cracked (or New York cut) pepper
- A big pinch of salt
- 1 Good blender or food processor (magimix has to be one of my all time favorites here)
To start off, make sure your blending tool of choice is good and dry (remember, oil and water don’t mix too good!). Now chuck the following ingredients into the chamber (is there a better word for the “processing” part of a food processor?):
EGGS: As always, these must be fresh, fresh and lastly FRESH! If you want to bring the whole organic/ free range argument into it; you will find organic eggs give you a darker, more vibrant yellow but, in my own experience, no discernible difference in taste to the end product. Of course I do not condone un-necessary cruelty to animals, i’m just saying I see very little evidence of the whole “happy chicken = happy eggs” thing so i’m not going to start judging you for it.
PARSLEY: This stuff is great for taking the sharper edge off the garlic (as mentioned next), it also adds a nice extra color that separates your aioli out from the crowd. Good Italian parsley will be soft to the touch with no blemishes or dry spots. However, if you only have access to the more common “crinkled” parsley, try using the stalks instead of the leaves ( sounds odd I know, but it has saved me once or twice in the past when the produce order hasn’t come through on time).
GARLIC: Of course, this one is all important! You don’t want that sharp tasting Chinese garlic usually found on supermarket shelves no!you want the real dea. Good garlic should be soft and not overbearing in flavor, making you aware of it’s existence, but not blocking out every other flavor. So how do you tell if you have good garlic? Simply rub a naked (peeled) clove vigorously between between your hands then sniff your palms. Bad garlic will give of a scent reminiscent of salt, whereas good garlic will give off a strong odour of… well… garlic (fancy that!).
VODKA: This one is a more recent addition to the mix (bad pun) a high alcohol spirit can help the overall texture but can also be used to add subtle flavors into your aioli. I’ve recently become a fan of using dry gin, though I can appreciate this might not be everyones cup of tea. So this is an area where you really have freedom to experiment, maybe start on smaller batches though, some of my own tests turned out, well… let’s just call it odd! (vermouth in particular).
LEMON: You need plenty of lemon juice in this one, so squeeze away!
A quick tip: if you’re not getting enough juice out of your lemon; try microwaving it on high for 20 seconds. The micro-waves cause the juice to expand, breaking their individual capsules and… hey presto! you got one juicy lemon!
BLENDING: Before you chuck the lid on, remember to throw in the salt & pepper. In regards to food processors with different blade options: use the sharpest blades you have, something like this should do the trick. Start the blender on high rotation and, once everything is sliced, whipped and combined start adding the oil. Timing is of the essence with this one, start VERY SLOWLY adding just a drip at a time until the noise of the blender changes ever so slightly (it sounds a bit like a gurgle). Now start pouring in a small, but steady flow, squeeze bottles are great for this as you can maintain a bit more control over the process. Slowly speed up and -when approximately half the oil is gone- stop your processor and check the consistency of its contents. At this stage things should be pretty viscous and saucy, great for salads, pizza toppings and other sauce-like uses. If there is a lot of seperated oil still floating around it means your aioli has split (*bugger) start over again and be more careful with your oil pouring.
If you want to thicken things up a bit, just chuck the blender back on high and add the rest of the oil. You can pour as fast as you like now, things are combined, they should stay that way. When you hear a second change in rhythm from your machine, switch it of and, again, check out its contents. You should now have a dip-like substance, great for pommes frites and spreading on sandwiches in fact, pretty much great for everything (barring a heart condition).
P.s – Add a bit of whole grain mustard to the mix if you want to “fatten” things up a bit.
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