Aioli (ahy-oh-lee) is a beautiful, spicy garlic and olive oil sauce that is a specialty of Provence, where it is typically paired with seafood platters, fried or grilled fish and chicken, and roasted or boiled vegetables.
With its creamy texture and intense garlic flavor, it turns a simple meal into an impressive one. It is a staple in my kitchen, serving as the base for many other sauces.
I serve it on baked potatoes or as a dip for French fries, vegetable crudités, or crisp baguette toasts. It’s fantastic in pasta, egg, and potato salads, and on sandwiches; especially if you want a good jolt of garlic.
The traditional recipe involves crushing garlic in a mortar and pestle and adding salt and olive oil. Some recipes include emulsifiers such as eggs to make it more like a mayonnaise.
Homemade aioli is easier to make than you may think — especially if you use a blender or food processor. Some chefs take “easy” a step further and make an excellent aioli using store-bought mayonnaise.
To make about 2/3 cup of aioli, combine 2 garlic cloves, pureed through a garlic press, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 cup mayonnaise (preferably made with olive oil), 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Try adding fresh herbs, curry powder, or pureed adobo chiles, or change it up with roasted garlic. Spread it on toast and top with sliced ripe tomatoes, or serve as a dipping sauce for crab cakes. Aioli will last about two weeks in the refrigerator. You cannot freeze emulsified sauces.
Veal chop with fried zucchini and aioli
Adapted from Spring the Cookbook by Skye Gyngell, Quadrille ($24.95).
A wine crafted by California winemaker Olivia Teutschel, emBrazen red blend 2016 ($15.99) honoring trailblazing entertainer and activist Josephine Baker is a good match for this recipe. The dark fruit and notes of blackberry and mocha in this wine stand up to the rich flavor of the veal chop and harmonize well with the flavors in the aioli and zucchini.
For the aioli:
3 egg yolks (save 2 whites for zucchini batter)
Juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1-1/4 cups extra virgin olive oil
Put the egg yolks in a food processor and add the lemon juice, garlic and a good pinch of salt. Blitz briefly to combine, then with the motor running, slowly pour in the olive oil through the funnel. When it is all incorporated and you have a thick aïoli, transfer to a bowl.
For the shoestring zucchini:
3-1/8 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/8 cups extra virgin olive oil
1-1/8 cups water
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 egg whites
5 medium zucchini, cut in half and slice lengthwise, then cut into matchsticks
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
Handful of fresh sage leaves (optional)
To make the batter for the zucchini, sift the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the center. Pour in the olive oil and half the water, then whisk to combine to a thick, smooth batter. Incorporate the remaining water and paprika. In a separate, clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks, then fold into the batter. Refrigerate until ready to use; the batter will sit happily for a couple of hours.
Place zucchini in a bowl and pour on a little of the batter. Toss together lightly using your fingertips, ensuring that all zucchini is well coated.
Heat the oil in a deep fryer or other suitable deep, heavy-based pan to 350ºF. Fry the zucchini matchsticks in batches for 3–4 minutes, until just golden. Remove and briefly drain on kitchen paper.
Lower the sage leaves into the hot oil in a basket and fry for a few seconds, then remove and drain on kitchen paper.
For the veal chops:
6 veal chops
A little olive oil, for cooking
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
You will need to cook the veal in batches or in two large pans to avoid overcrowding. Place 2 large non-stick pans over a high heat. When they are really hot, add the oil, then place the veal chops in the pan and cook, without moving, for 4 minutes on one side until golden on the underside. Turn and cook for a further 4 minutes on the other side. Remove from the pan and leave to rest in a warm place for 10 minutes. Season the chops really generously on both sides.
Place the veal chops on warm plates with a pile of matchstick zucchini. Add a dollop of aïoli and finish with the fried sage leaves.
Yield: 6 Servings