Eating aioli has to be one of my favorite ways to consume luscious amounts of garlic and olive oil. Add basil, put that aioli on top of a toasted piece of whole grain bread, top it with heirloom tomatoes from your mom's garden, add some creamy avocado and a generous slice of yesterday's perfectly roasted chicken from Lola's in Berkeley , and you have a masterpiece. And an excuse to twist the cap on that New Zealand sauvie that's been looking at you every time you open the fridge.
Aioli is a traditional garlic and egg-based Provencal sauce, of the likes of a homemade garlic mayonnaise, but made by someone who bought a baguette early that morning and had a cheese course the night before.
Ranging in consistency that's similar to a creme anglaise when made the traditional way with a mortar and pestle to a smooth, thick, swarthy texture when made in a food processor or via whisk and bowl, aioli is served all over Europe and can be found in many bistro and fine dining establishments in the U.S. Where this sauce receives it's due respect is in the classic seasonal spring meal devoted entirely to it's presence in Provence, aptly named "Le Grand Aioli." At this meal, bowls of the garlic wonder are served with slightly cooked spring vegetables and boiled eggs for dipping.
I'm a lover of aioli, plain and simple, but where it really shines in my house is with chopped herbs. Toss some basil, tarragon, or chervil in the aioli at the end of the mixing, and you have what's possibly the best sauce for veggies and cushion for sandwiches around.
Why a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with aioli?
New Zealand makes a Sauvignon Blanc known for being herbaceous, having hints of tropical fruit, and for having a mad mineral, lime streak. Choosing a New Zealand Sauvie for this dish is drawing on both wine pairing ideals of matching and contrasting.
We're matching the herbs in the aioli to the grassy, slightly herbaceous green nature of the wine, and in return, the wine thanks us by amplifying the fresh herbal flavors of the basil, tarragon, or chervil that we choose for the sauce. And if you have a fresh, young, green-tasting olive oil, the Sauvie matches wonders here too. As for contrasting, the mineral lime and the steely hint of guava in the wine cuts through the fat in the rich olive oil expertly like a squeeze of lemon in a cream sauce.
Some of my favorite New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs are those from Bird and Evans and Tate wineries. I drank the 2006 Evans and Tate Sauvignon Blanc from Margaret River with my sandwich. A great cheapie.
Add a sunny day, a sandwich to lather the aioli on and you've got a perfect seasonal meal.
Herbed Aioli Recipe: Step by Step Pictures
1 egg yolk, at room temperature
1 medium clove garlic, chopped
1 tsp dijion mustard
juice of small lemon
3/4 - 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 - 1/2 cup fresh, packed basil or your favorite herbs
Salt and pepper to taste
* Footnote for those without food processers are at the end of this recipe.
Place first three ingredients in a food processer.
Blend until throughly combined, about 5-10 seconds. Add lemon juice and blend an additional 10 seconds plus.
Now it's time for the extra virgin. I prefer a lighter, greener, less harsh extra virgin olive oil for the aioli because sometimes the more intense olive oils can overpower the garlic mayo. For those whom the flavor of only extra virgin olive oil is their aioli too strong, I'd suggest using a combination of canola and extra virgin olive oil to your taste.
To start, add the olive oil in a very thin stream, as thin or thinner of a stream than that pictured in above photo. Such a stream will ensure that the aioli won't break before finishing. After emulsification begins, you may add the oil faster. You'll know the emulsification is happening when your aioli looks like this:
If oil begins to bead or gather on aioli's surface while blending, stop pouring the oil for a moment and pulse mix until incorporated. After using 3/4 cup of olive oil, add some salt and taste the mix. Is it too tart? Add the full cup of oil. If the aoili tastes sufficently creamy to you, just add a tad more oil. Too much oil and the aioli won't set well.
Now add the chopped herbs (rough chop, packed well) and pulse until all is well combined. I used basil because it was availabe and delicious at my farmer's market, but I've also used varying combinations of tarragon and chervil, and the aioli equally rocked.
To finish, add salt and pepper to taste. I love tons of pepper in my baby.
If you'd rather use a bowl and whisk because you're just that kind of cook, or because no food processor is available to you (just got mine recently), here are some helpful hints. First, finely chop the garlic and herbs- everything will blend easier. Second, in areas where the recipe suggests processing or pulsing, whisk isntead. Yes! Third, in the beginning of the aioli process, add the oil in as thin as a stream as possible until your aioli begins emulsifying. This applies to those who process too, but it is even more important that you mind this, whiskers, because the aioli has more chance of breaking when whisked. After coagulation begins, you may add the oil faster. If oil begins to bead or gather on aioli's surface while whisking and pouring, stop pouring for a moment and whisk until fully incorporated. Last, be nice to yourself and do the following: moisten a dish towell, twist it, and form the twisted towell into a circle pattern on your cutting board or countertop. Tie the ends together in necessary to make circle stay on you place the aioli bowl on top. The towell will hold the bowl in place so both hands are free- one to whisk and the other to pour. Much easier.