(yields about 3/4 cup)
The “Butter” of Provence
Aïoli is a symbol of Provençal cuisine, where it's smeared on everything from bread to seafood to vegetables. Much like the old-fashioned way of making butter in a churn, the best way to make aïoli is with a mortar and pestle.
3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp lemon juice, if needed
First, dust off your mortar and pestle. Next, prepare to tune everything else out and be in the moment.
Add garlic cloves and salt to the mortar and start to smash them with the pestle. As the garlic flattens, continue to pound, grinding the mortar around inside the pestle until a sticky paste begins to form.
Add an egg yolk to the garlic and stir the mixture vigorously until it becomes emulsified.
Slowly begin to add a couple of drops of olive oil while you quickly stir to combine. Continue to add the oil, little by little, ensuring that it is completely combined into the egg and garlic before adding more.
The mixture will start to thicken as you go. Continue this process thoughtfully until you have added all of the oil. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
There’s always the chance that while you are making your aïoli, it might break. That means it turns into a curdled looking oily mess. If it should break, don’t panic. Pour it into another bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to the mortar, then add a teaspoon of the aïoli. Mix, mix, mix, then mix some more. Slowly add the remainder of the aïoli and think positive thoughts for a creamy, garlicky sauce.
Aïoli on the Side
A traditional preparation with aïoli is a platter referred to as "le grand aïoli". There are no set components to the platter, but it generally contains a variety of boiled vegetables, some poached fish and a few hardboiled eggs. This Thread & Whisk version includes hardboiled eggs, albacore tuna and an assortment of roasted spring vegetables tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper.