Aioli, as described by Alice Waters, is “a velvety, luscious, garlicky mayonnaise.” It’s another of those simple foods that, having been around for so long, has inspired debate over exact origins, and the proper, authentic ingredients. In Spain, for instance, aioli is made without egg, but in France, the sauce resembles mayonnaise more closely, as the addition of egg acts as an emulsifier to make a creamy, thicker sauce, and a small amount of mustard may also be added for flavor.
We’re not here to take sides in the debate, but we do know that making aioli with egg makes for a more stable emulsion, so this recipe from Waters’s The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution features egg, front, and center. The results are thick and rich and yes, luscious.
Aioli is a versatile sauce. Thick and creamy, it can be used as a dip for fresh veg, or as an ingredient in chicken, egg, or potato salads. It can be spread on sandwiches as mayonnaise, or thinned, as we show here, to use as a drizzling sauce for anything that needs some of that rich, golden flavor.
As the egg yolk begins to absorb the oil, the sauce will thicken and become lighter in color. Continue whisking, and add the oil steadily until the full portion is incorporated, and the sauce is thick and creamy. Yes, by now this is a LOT of whisking. Keep going!
Whisk in a squeeze of lemon, if desired, to finish. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired with more salt or garlic. Garnish with lemon zest.
The aioli can be used as is or thinned to a drizzling sauce. As with any sauce containing raw eggs, aioli should be stored in the refrigerator. It’s best made fresh, in small batches, as it tastes best on the day it is made.
To make the drizzling sauce, whisk in about 2 tablespoons of water, to thin sauce to the desired consistency.
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