Sunday, December 19, 2010

Lazy Aioli

It's lovely to be married. The ties may bind, but they have a liberating effect: I have freedom to relax, to be myself, and to eat raw garlic.

One way we like to eat it, smelly old us, is in aioli. Last night we dropped great dollops into a vegetable stew, and swirled it through the potatoes, the fennel, and the sauce fragrant with saffron and orange. At the bottom of the dish, tomato and aioli surged together. I mopped them up with a bit of bread, and sighed with delight.

This morning I have the soft taste of garlic at the back of my throat and my skin is slightly fragrant. It makes me feel warmer, more sensual, less harried, less Protestant. And in the approaching madness of the holiday season, that, my friends, is wonderful.

Lazy Aioli

- 4 to 6 cloves garlic
- a generous pinch of coarse salt
- 1 egg
- ½ or so cup olive oil
- the juice of a lemon juice

Whack the garlic cloves with the flat of a knife and flick away the skins. Drop the cloves into a mortar along with a generous pinch of coarse salt. Grind the garlic and salt together until it has formed a paste.

Scrape the paste into the small bowl of a food processor. Add an egg, and whizz until well combined. Gradually add the olive oil, initially a little at a time and then in a thin stream, processing very thoroughly all the while. When the mixture is pale and thick, add the lemon juice, and whizz again. Taste, and add a little more olive oil or lemon juice if required, whizzing once more to amalgamate the ingredients.

Traditionally, aioli was made by hand. To do so, pound the garlic and salt together, then proceed using a whisk. Use only the yolk of the egg, and add the olive oil in tiny, tiny increments to ensure emulsification.

Serve aioli with potato wedges or grilled vegetables; stirred into white beans; dropped into soup; or drizzled liberally over a vegetable casserole.

(Local: garlic, egg, olive oil, lemon. Not local: salt.)

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