You know how I’ve sung the praises of Duke’s mayonnaise, but the other day, I decided I needed something more. I needed to make aioli. Garlic aioli, as a dip for fresh vegetables for lunch.
Have I ever made aioli? Nope. But really, yolks, vinegar, oil and a blender and you have a decent, homemade garlicky deliciousness for pennies, right?
Huh. I rarely worry about tackling a new recipe, but for some reason aioli made me a little nervous. Every recipe, and I read through a few before making up my own, warned about the sauce breaking, or failing to emulsify. Breaking something sounds alarming.
The chefs and cooks talked about remedies for sauce that was too thin, too. My favorite solutions was Joel Robuchon’s addition of a tablespoon of mashed pototo. That seemed brilliantly obvious.
So I assembled some fun ingredients to make a couple of different batches:
The fresh herbs and garlic were for the first batch. The anchovies, along with the Sriracha sauce and some Chinese dried mustard were for an Asian-flavored batch.
I mixed olive oil and milder grapeseed oil, so the fruitiness wouldn’t interfere with other flavors. And we had some dynamite peppercorn Dijon mustard for extra oomph on the first batch.
For blender aioli you need a little egg white as well as egg yolk, to help the aioli set up. And the eggs need to be at room temperature. You can cheat by setting them in warm water for 10 minutes:
Beat one egg with a whisk until thoroughly blended and foamy. Add 2 Tbsp. of the egg, along with one yolk, and 1/4 tsp. dry or Dijon mustard to the blender and blend for 5-10 seconds.
That’s where the trouble started. The blender didn’t work – no matter how many names I called it; no matter how many times I unplugged it and replugged it, shook it and reset it on its base. Then I remembered that it had failed on us this summer and we ended up making strawberry daquiries in the food processor. Yes, the obvious question is, “Why didn’t you just throw it away?” Maybe we were hoping it was just a fluke.
So I pulled out the food processor, poured the ingredients in and hit pulse. Nothing. Not working. Flop sweat broke out on my forehead. After several minutes of fiddling with no success, it was down to the old-school method – a bowl and a whisk.
So I whisked away at the egg mixture, added a tablespoon of fresh thyme and oregano, and one clove of minced garlic. Then it was time to drizzle in the 1/2 cup of oil:
The sauce started thickening. It didn’t break. There was no way I was making that second batch, so I threw in a mashed up anchovy fillet. After five minutes, my wrists couldn’t take anymore and the aioli still wasn’t thick enough.
Never be ashamed of cheating for a good reason. I added three tablespoons of sour cream. Voila!
I ended up with a silky, thin sauce that made my raw carrots come alive. And that night I roasted some red potatoes that we dipped in the remaining aioli.
So, the only thing that broke and didn’t emulsify?