Saturday, March 28, 2009

Rosemary Aioli

Aioli is essentially mayonnaise, a beautifully whipped blend of egg yolk and olive oil, flavored with a little salt and sometimes herbs or garlic. It makes a great dip for vegetables, as an ingredient in salad dressing or as a sauce for fish and other fine foods. Once you have a little practice aioli is fun and easy to make… not to mention it can turn any meal into a fancy feast! I am including it here as an accompaniment to my earlier posting for celery root hash. The hash sautéd nicely into hot cakes and I used the aioli sauce with a hint of fresh rosemary to bring out the rosemary in the hash and the creamy undertones of the celery root. Even if you have not yet tried making the hash, don’t wait to make aioli!

Aioli is one of those simple foods that must be made with quality ingredients to taste good. Use fresh flavorful egg yolk and good olive oil! The trick to making good aioli with the perfect consistency is to whisk it vigorously the whole time and add the oil slowly. The oil should be at room temperature and the egg yolk too, although it works fine for me right out of the refrigerator!

1 egg yolk
¾ to 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt
1 tsp. filtered water
1 tsp. fresh, finely chopped rosemary leaves

Separate the egg yolk from the white and store the white for another use. Add a generous pinch of salt to the yolk and begin to whisk, slowly add 1 tsp. filtered water. When the water and yolk are well blended slowly begin to add the olive oil in a thin stream, whisking all the while. As you whisk your aioli will slowly start to thicken, as it thickens you may slowly add more olive oil. Again, whisk it until thick and slowly add a bit more. The oil will initially dilute your aioli and alter the texture, but as you whisk it in they will combine and become thick again. Handmade aioli will rarely turn out as stiff as commercial mayonnaise, but it should be stiff and form peaks similar to whipped cream.

The amount of oil you add is up to you, you may decide you like your aioli to have more of an egg flavor or more of an olive oil flavor. In theory an egg yolk should be able to “take” up to a cup of oil. Meaning that an aioli made with one yolk will continue to thicken with up to a cup of oil, after that it may begin to thin it out. When you have added all the oil you wish to use, add the finely chopped rosemary leaves, this is also a nice time to add finely chopped garlic, parsley, a little lemon juice or other herbs. Make sure the rosemary is finely chopped so that the flavor remains subtle, we do not want it to overpower the delicate flavor of the aioli. Experiment, 1 tsp. of fresh herbs may be too much for you, start with ½ and then add more as desired. You can serve aioli with anything! Aioli keeps in the refrigerator for a few days, but I always prefer it fresh. If you know you only need a little bit for that occasion, use less oil and enjoy a small amount of fresh aioli with a more pronounced egg flavor.

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