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Aioli

Updated: Jul 27, 2020


Aioli is really the modern interpretation of an extremely old sauce, allioli, found around the Mediterranean. Allioli consisted of just garlic, olive oil and salt. The garlic oil was mashed up very well, and the oil slowly drizzled in while mashing it into the garlic paste. Though it is still seen regularly around Spain, it has been replaced in most places by Aioli. Aioli, as it is made today, is basically just a garlic mayonnaise, with the addition of the lemon juice and egg yolks to create a strong emulsion. It’s not nearly as garlicy as true allioli, but modern diners and cooks have gotten used to having a sauce that doesn’t break (separate) on the plate, and it adds a bit more creaminess than you can ever get from the traditional allioli.

Having said all that, in Spain, almost everyone still says allioli when they really are talking about aioli, so prepare to be confused!

Aioli is very easy to make, especially with a hand blender or food processor.

This is a standard base recipe which can be modified in a million ways to add different flavors, depending on the application. You can substitute different flavored vinegars or citrus for some or all of the lemon juice. You can blend in just about any herb or spice that you can imagine. You can add chiles, hot sauces, roasted (instead of raw) garlic. Pimentón and saffron both make excellent additions. If you want a looser texture, blend in a little bit of cold water at the end.


I like to use half extra virgin olive oil and half of a more neutral-flavored oil, such as canola or sunflower. You can use all EVOO if you prefer, but I find in many applications, the flavor becomes too strong and can overpower the other items on the plate.

Stored covered in the fridge, the aioli will keep for a couple weeks.

 

Ingredients (makes about 1¼ cups)

  • 2 egg yolks

  • Juice from one lemon

  • Zest from one lemon (optional)

  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

  • ½ cup canola, sunflower, or other neutral-flavored oil

  • Cold water as needed

  • Salt TT

Instructions

The easiest way to make the aioli is using a hand blender. A food processor also works really well. It can be done with just a bowl and whisk, but unless you have something to prove, or no electricity, I highly recommend the power tools. It’ll take much less time and you’ll end up with a much more robust emulsion.

1. Blend the egg yolks, lemon juice and zest, garlic and a pinch of salt until smooth and homogeneous. Add any extra flavoring ingredients at this stage. Don’t proceed to the next step until these are smooth and well blended.


2. Slowly start to drizzle in oil while blending. Especially early, drizzle the oil very slowly, and make sure it gets well incorporated, not pooling up.

As you get the oil incorporated the mixture will begin to thicken. If it gets too thick, the emulsion will break (the oil and lemon juice will separate). To keep it from getting too thick, you can blend in a few drops of cold water to thin it out, as needed. Keep going, adding a little water as necessary, until you have incorporated all of the oil.

Check the seasoning, and if necessary, you can mix in a little more salt at the end.


What if your Aioli breaks (separates)?

It happens to everyone at some point. There are two main causes of a broken aioli. The first is adding the oil too quickly, especially in the beginning, which keeps a good emulsion from ever forming. The second, is letting the emulsion get too thick. The aioli will get thicker and thicker as you add oil. Eventually, it will get so thick that adding more oil will just break the emulsion (oil will separate out). Add a few drops of water or lemon juice to thin the aioli if it starts getting too thick.

Don’t worry, though, you can fix a broken aioli!


1. Starting in a clean container, blend together another egg yolk and a few tablespoons more of cold water or lemon juice.


2. While blending, very slowly begin pouring in the broken aioli like you would the oil in the original recipe. It will come back together. Continue slowly adding while blending.

Remember if it starts getting too thick, it can break again, so, as needed, blend in a little bit of cold water to keep it from getting too thick.




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