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Preparing garlic aioli
September 11, 2017, 11:44 am

The key to preparing garlic aioli at home is tempering the robust flavors of the garlic with a gentle hand. The resulting sauce is a knock-out, full of flavor and ideal for elevating frozen French fries, roasted vegetables, or even poached fish. Aioli is best in small batches, so it is great for learning the principals of emulsions without wasting time or ingredients. Here is a step-by-step guide to preparing delicious garlic aioli.

What is aioli: Aioli is a type of mayonnaise, but by definition it must contain both garlic and olive oil. Mayonnaise and aioli are both emulsions created by the power of egg yolks. Mayonnaise can be made with any oil — from neutral canola to flavorful nut oils — whisked with egg yolks, lemon juice, and sometimes mustard. Aioli is traditionally made with garlic, olive oil, egg yolk, and lemon juice and it is mixed with a mortar and pestle.
Make garlic-infused olive oil: One problem that plagues aioli recipes is too much garlic — yes, the garlic flavor should be front and center, but it should not be sharp or indigestion-inducing. The trick is to temper the garlic by cooking it slowly in the olive oil destined for aioli. This gives you two levels of flavor — a sweet, aromatic garlic in the oil and an earthier, more pronounced garlic flavor added from smashing the garlic cloves into the finished aioli.

Store garlic oil carefully: Garlic stored in olive oil has the potential to grow bacteria if stored improperly. Only make as much garlic oil as you plan to use immediately and do not leave it hanging out on the counter for longer than an hour. If you need to stop mid-aioli-making, move the garlic oil to the fridge to cool and bring it to room temperature before using.

Preparing aioli by hand: There are several ways to quickly make aioli without a whisk. In fact, one would find it easier to prepare aioli with a simple Mason jar and immersion blender. But in testing it was found that using more than a whisk to make garlic aioli muddled the flavor of the garlic, which made it taste bitter. Thus, a small arm workout of 10 minutes is required in preparing aioli.
Garlic aioli

Makes 1/2 cup

1/2 cup olive oil
3 peeled, whole garlic cloves
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp kosher salt

Measuring cups and spoons
Non-skid pad or damp kitchen towel
Mixing bowl
Chef's knife


Warm the olive oil and garlic cloves in a small skillet over medium-low heat until the garlic is tender but not browned (12 to 14 minutes). Adjust the heat if the garlic begins to sizzle vigorously or take on color. Remove the pan from the heat and use a slotted spoon to transfer the garlic cloves to a medium bowl. Cool the oil to room temperature (about 45 minutes). Transfer the cooled oil to a measuring cup with a spout.

Place the medium bowl with garlic cloves on a non-skid pad or damp kitchen towel. Add the egg yolk, lemon juice, and salt to the bowl and whisk to combine. 

While whisking the egg mixture, very slowly add the garlic oil one drop at a time. After about half of the oil has been added, the mixture will have lightened in color and thickened. At this point, you can add the oil in a very slow drizzle until the aioli is thick and creamy.

If you prefer a more pronounced garlic flavor, mash one of the reserved garlic cloves with the side of your knife. Stir the mashed garlic into the aioli. 

Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 3 days.


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