number 16: aioli


Adam has been asking me to make aioli for a long time now.  It took me a long time to get around to it, partly because I thought it would be difficult, partly because I didn’t think I would eat much of it.  I didn’t try aioli until just a couple years ago.  I had it labeled as a “mayonnaise-like substance” and avoided it like the plague.  It was served with beets and our first anniversary dinner.  And I liked it.  Not enough to want to make it myself, but I liked it.

This year I bought Patricia Well’s Bistro Cooking, which quickly became one of my all-time favorite cookbooks.  Not only has every recipe I have tried been stunning, but her voice and her attitude toward cooking is wonderful and warm, and I can’t just get enough of it.

A couple weeks ago, I decided that the time was ripe for me to make good on my promise to make Adam some aioli and went straight to Patricia Well’s for the recipe.  Once I saw that she recommended making the sauce start to finish with a mortar and pestle, I was sold on this aioli idea (I love an excuse to use a mortar and pestle!).  It was as fun to make as I imagined.  But what I didn’t expect was that I would love it.  Perhaps that is because this aoli was approximately 3x as garlicky as other aiolis I have tried.  And I am a garlic nut.  But I highly suggest cutting out a clove or two of garlic if you aren’t up for a seriously pungent spread.

My favorite use for aioli?  Burgers!  I have never been much of a hamburger eater, but I made them one night for dinner and spread aioli on the toasted buns.  Oh my!  I ate two.  Which, for me, is quite a feat.  They were delicious.


adapted from Patricia Wells

Pour boiling water into a large mortar to warm it.  Peel 3 large garlic cloves and slice in half.  Remove the green sprout or “germ” from the middle.    Dump the water out of the mortar and put the garlic cloves in it.  Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and crush with a pestle into a paste.  Add one egg yolk.  Stir with the pestle (always in the same direction) until it is blended with the garlic.  Add 1/2 c olive oil drop by drop, stirring continuously, until the mixture thickens.  Stir until you have a mayonnaise-like consistency.  If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic and salt with the flat side of a knife, and then whisk in the yolk and olive oil (as directed previously) in a bowl.


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