A year and a half ago, in a post about foods that I am “just not that into,” I wrote:
“Mayonnaise is, hands down, my biggest shiver-inspiring food. The gentle slurping-sucking noise it makes as it pulls away from the side of the jar is all I’d have to think about if I ever decide to be bulimic (not likely). They way it oozes out of other people’s sandwiches and winds up winking at you from the corners of their mouths. The way it always gets on your hands when you stick a knife in the jar to fish it out. I have to stop—I am legitimately making myself queasy.”
Last week, I actually had to excuse myself from the lunch table (pretended to need more napkins) because the girl next to me was squeezing mayo packet after mayo packet onto her sandwich, spreading it around with her finger, then licking off the excess. *Cringe*
Despite my bitter hatred of this creamy white condiment, Tony somehow convinced me to make aioli last night. (It’s those big, blue eyes…they get me every time.)
It was late and I was grumpy and hungry. I wanted a yummy grass-fed hamburger and Tony wanted corn, bean, and cabbage tacos. Little Miss Grumpy won the meat war, but Tony insisted we make patatas bravas (potatoes shallow-fried in olive oil) with homemade aioli to accompany the burgers.
So, while Tony was making the burgers, scrubbing and cutting the potatoes and crisping them in olive oil, I set about whipping up the aioli which—don’t be fooled—is just a fancy word for mayo with garlic in it.
I started by crushing two cloves of garlic in a mortar and pestle; then I added some salt and a splash of lemon juice and mashed it all together. Next, I added good olive oil—little by little—and continued to mix it in the mortar. Near the end, I added a few drops of water to achieve a nice consistency: not to stiff and not too saucy.
When the aioli was finished, I found myself staring down at a beautiful, bright, creamy, pale yellow-green condiment. I was nervous, but intrigued. This recipe had no egg and no weird emulsifiers, just simple ingredients that I love on their own. So, what was not to like? When the potatoes came out of the oil perfectly hot, fresh, and crisp, I gingerly plucked one from the plate and dipped it in my creation. It was…AMAZING! The aioli was fresh and rich, smooth and zippy, and so delicious it seems unfair to other condiments. I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on homemade mayo this long.
Now, don’t get too carried away, I still hate commercial mayo, and I am not about to slather my food in the homemade stuff either. But a thin layer of this aioli on a burger or a few teaspoons of it for my French fries? Yes, please!