Aioli

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The most dramatic difference between hand- and machine-made mayonnaise can be tasted in aioli (garlic mayonnaise) made in a mortar and pestle (not the smooth chemist’s variety but one of semi-rough marble). The texture is like velvet, the flavors are subtle, and the result is more digestible.

It was Richard Olney who showed me the best way to make aioli. Later I made the red pepper version, rouille, for Julia Child in her house at Plascassier in the south of France in 1978, when a group including the English novelist Sybille Bedford, Richard Olney, and other friends gathered and Julia let me cook. Put in the fish soup, the rouille was a sensation. Yet another version of aioli can be made by adding sea urchin puree—the result is transcendental.

Ingredients

  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ¼ cup fresh white bread crumbs
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons fish or chicken stock, depending on final use
  • 2 cups olive oil

Method

Work the garlic, egg yolks, bread crumbs, salt, and a little stock in a mortar or food processor to a paste. When the paste is smooth, start adding the oil slowly, working it all the time. Add as much oil as it will take without breaking; then add stock to thin it to the right consistency.

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