Traditional aioli is a garlic-heavy homemade olive oil mayonnaise popular in the south of France. It's delicious on pretty much anything, but particularly well-suited for brightening up boiled or roasted potatoes (as pictured here), hard-boiled eggs, roast chicken, and steamed or grilled vegetables of all sorts. The only problem with it is that it features raw garlic, which is simply too much for some people.
Enter roasted garlic - raw garlic's softer, gentler, less-intense cousin. A bit of time in a hot oven calms garlic right down, highlighting its essential sweet nature. Two heads may sound like a lot, and you should feel free to cut down that amount, but roasted garlic is so mellow that this amount works well.
- Preheat an oven to 375 F. Remove as much excess peel, or papery covering, on the heads of garlic as you can.
- To make getting the garlic out a lot easier later, use a sharp paring knife to snip off the tip of each clove of garlic. Put the garlic heads on a large piece of aluminum foil, then drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
- Fold the foil up and crimp to enclose the garlic. Roast until browned and supremely tender, about 45 minutes.
- Open the foil packet and let sit until cool enough to handle.
- Using a small spoon, dig out the garlic cloves from the head. You can also just squeeze the cloves out. Mash the cloves into a paste. Now choose to proceed with the blender method or the whisk method. The blender is faster; the whisk gives the cook more control, and thus there's less risk of the aioli "breaking," or having the egg mixture and the oil separate.
- Whirl the garlic, egg, lemon juice, mustard, and salt in a blender to combine.
- With blender running on a low speed, drip the oil in slowly, allowing each addition to incorporate into the egg mixture before adding more. As more oil is incorporated, you can add the oil more quickly, working up to a slow stream.
- As you add the oil, the mixture will thicken. It's actually pretty crazy how it goes from a liquidy mix of beaten egg into a creamy-looking spread.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. If it's terribly thick, you can thin it a bit with drops of lemon juice. Don't try to thin it with more oil, which will counterintuitively make it thicker. Serve immediately or cover and chill for up to two days.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, egg, lemon juice, mustard, and salt.
- Set the bowl on a silicone oven pad or wrap the bottom of the bowl in a kitchen towel to hold the bowl still on the counter without having to hold it.
- Whisking constantly, add the oil, drop by drop, allowing each addition to incorporate into the egg mixture before adding more. As more oil is incorporated, you can add the oil more in a stream.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Whisk in more lemon juice (a drop at a time) to taste, or use the lemon juice to thin the aioli, if needed (it may be counterintuitive, but adding more oil with thicken, not thin the mixture once it starts to thicken, and adding too much oil will break the mixture). Serve the aioli immediately, or cover and chill for up to two days.
If the Aioli Breaks
If the aioli separates and goes from being creamy and yummy to looking more like the egg-and-oil combo that it is, there's an easy way to save the day:
- Start all over with a fresh egg and a few tablespoons of oil.
- Once you get the emulsion working, use the broken version as the rest of the oil.