Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Le Grand Aioli

I messed with the aioli... What can I say? The thyme was calling to me, and I couldn't help myself. Now be warned: This is not mayo, and it's not for the weak of heart.  It's got a major BITE.  But, used sparingly on simple, boiled vegetables, it's just right. Especially if you looove garlic.

3-5 garlic cloves
kosher salt
2 egg yolks*
1/2 c. good quality olive oil
2 tsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 sprigs fresh thyme
black pepper

green beans

Crush the garlic cloves along with a pinch of kosher salt, using a mortar and pestle.  Work at it until it's nice and creamy.  It's tough at first to keep those chunks of garlic from jumping out onto the counter, but it smooths out. Scrape the leaves off your sprigs of thyme into the garlic mash. Stir in the egg yolks, then let it sit for a few minutes. (*Use pasteurized or farm fresh eggs from a trusted source.)

Next, place a folded, damp paper towel on the counter underneath your mortar/bowl. This keeps it from slipping while your hands are busy pouring and stirring. Slowly, slowly drip a little olive oil in along the side of the bowl, while continuing to stir in a smooth, regular motion.  Mix in about a third of the oil, then a teaspoon of the lemon juice.  Steadily pour and stir in another third of the olive oil, then a teaspoon of lemon juice. Finish with the final third of olive oil.  (Don't stop stirring, or else your aioli could "break" into frustrating little clumps.) Salt and pepper to taste.

Cover and refrigerate until dinner. Serve alongside your favorite boiled veggies. I boiled quartered beets and whole red potatoes (20 min.); carrots (8 min.) and green beans (4 min.). This would go well with artichokes or asparagus, as well.  Pair with an ice cold Cotes de Provence Rose.

From what I gather, Le Grand Aioli refers to this whole meal, which often includes poached cod (poached in the veggie water). But we'd gone to Whole Foods that morning, and a certain 6 year old begged me to buy some fish "with the head and eyeballs still on." And I did! (That's not something I usually do.) We chose Branzino Sea Bass, which we soaked in milk, breaded in flour and panfried in olive oil and butter. Heads, tails, eyeballs and all:

The six year old asked for seconds! --Was actually disappointed when I didn't plop an entire fish on her plate.

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