This wonderful sauce has been called “the butter of Provence,” “the soul of the South,” “cream of sun,” and it is indeed as heady as it sounds. It can be served with a basket of raw vegetables and hard-boiled eggs or as part of an aïoli monstre, with snails, squid, dried cod, tuna, and a splendid array of vegetables. In all cases, it is superbly invigorating. Only water should be served with this potent sauce, but a vigorous red wine is acceptable.
This is a sauce which cannot be made successfully in a blender. Mortar and pestle are as essential to aïoli as crisp, fresh garlic.
Peel the garlic cloves (make sure they are firm and without any green in the center). Place the egg yolks in the mortar and slip a kitchen towel under it to prevent it from slipping when you use the pestle.
Crush the garlic through a garlic press into the mortar. Add the salt and pound with the pestle until the garlic, salt, and yolks have turned into a paste.
Slowly start pouring the oil in a steady flow, stirring constantly with the pestle. Keep stirring steadily until you obtain a thick, shiny, firm sauce. Add the lemon juice and pepper and stir for another minute. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
© 1990 Mireille Johnston estate. All rights reserved.