Someone once told me that “if it’s hard to pronounce, it’s probably hard to make.”
Obviously, “hard to pronounce” is subjective… I grew up in an Acadian strong-hold, so I can pronounce French stuff relatively easily. Still, that doesn’t make pâté en croûte any easier to make!
So, aioli… it’s got an awesome “word pedigree.” In Latin, it would be allium oleum, which just rolls off the tongue! The phrase, I mean… hopefully you don’t let aioli actually roll off your tongue, and certainly not at the table with guests.
Anyway, allium oleum is literally “garlic oil” (we might call it “garlic mayonnaise”) and that is, basically, all there is to know about aioli. Except how to pronounce it… and that is Eye-Oh-Lee. And maybe how to make it… because some folks will have you jumping through hoops trying to make this stuff, but it really is very, very simple.
3 eggs yolks
3 cloves garlic, whole
Lemon juice from 1/2 lemon (about 1 T)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Sure, I said “3 egg yolks” and “3 cloves garlic” but you can use however much… the trick to remember is “one clove of garlic for every egg yolk.” Then, just bump up the salt, lemon, and oil as needed. The only real prep is to peel the garlic and separate the yolks.
Start your timer, because you’ll be amazed how fast it is to make this most excellent garlic mayo!
Add the egg yolks, garlic, big pinch of salt, and lemon juice to a food processor. Close it up nice and tight (sometimes I will put Crisco on the seal when I’m making aioli, because it leaks out of my old, beaten up food processor otherwise).
Start up the food processor on a low setting, and slowly and continuously drizzle the olive oil in through the top. Over the course of about 30 seconds, the mixture will turn from being a runny liquid to being mayo – in technical terms, it has emulsified. “Emulsify” is a fancy sounding word that means we’ve forced two liquids that didn’t want to mix, to mix.
Don’t stop at 30 seconds just because 30 seconds have elapsed… you need to keep adding oil until the whole thing spontaneously turns from liquid-y mess to mayo-y goodness.
In our case, the emulsification is between the water of the egg yolk and the oil, and the egg fats, garlic, etc., get carried along for the ride. The nice thing about the egg yolks is they also provide lecithin, which is an emulsifier… oh, the wonders of circular reasoning! It just makes our mixture of water and oil thicker, and voila, we have mayo!
What does your timer say? Last time I actually timed myself (no pun intended), I got 5 minutes, 45 seconds from the moment I thought, “gee I really want something to put on my sandwich” to spreading this super stuff onto a lightly toasted Kaiser roll.
The proportions listed above make about 1 cup of aioli, which will keep about a week in the frigidaire. Although, to be honest, I’ve never tested that, because it’s too yummy to last more than a couple days!
One last sort of warning… I like garlic, and 1 clove per egg yolk makes a very garlicky mayo, indeed! Feel free to adjust.