May 11, 2015

The Best Aioli

As you can see, this is one well-worn cookbook. I bought it when it came out in 1986. Camille Glenn, by my lights, had it all right.  Her collection of traditional southern recipes has been a boon anytime I’ve realized that my mother’s recipe in hand obviously left off instructions or omitted ingredients that she assumed any fool would know! I love Camille Glenn’s crab recipes, the corn pudding, chocolate pound cake, buttermilk biscuits, and so many others.  You can just tell that these are recipes she and her family have cooked over and over and that you would love to have dined at her parents’ country inn in Kentucky! I also treasure the many vintage photographs throughout her book. She died in 2010 at age 100.



For years I’ve made her mayonnaise. She calls it Blender Mayonnaise but I use my food processor. My mother made her own mayonnaise in a bowl, using a fork to whisk the ingredients into an emulsion. She used peanut or corn oil. I’ve tried to create her wonderful light mayonnaise with sad results. Then I found Camille and happily made her mayonnaise for years. I used to follow her instruction to use “1 cup good-quality flavorless vegetable oil (or use part olive oil if you wish).”  I was always bothered by her “flavorless” adjective, and a few years ago, I started using all olive oil.  The best olive oil, of course. Yes, indeed! Then I varied it again by adding a clove of minced garlic. Ecco: aioli, the French riviera cousin of plain mayonnaise., the provencal staple that is so good on crab cakes, shrimp salad, and French fries. I think traditional aioli doesn’t have lemon juice in it but for me that lemony hint is essential. You make this in a flash and it’s SO much better than any mayonnaise you can buy.  Google “aioli” and you find that most recipes still call for grapeseed or canola oil entirely, or for adding “some” olive oil. Most think olive oil should be diluted.  But, no, terrific oil is fruity and has a kick that jumpstarts the flavor.  Try this and let me know what you think. Camille had no access to great olive oil back then; I think she would be revising that recipe for mayonnaise if she had.

Here’s my version:

1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk, room temperature

1 cup of the best olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon black or cayenne pepper, or both

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Into the food processor, put the eggs, 1/4 cup of the oil, salt, pepper, mustard, and lemon juice.
Turn on the processor and swirl the mixture for a few seconds.
Slowly, slowly pour in the rest of the oil.
Midway, open the top and stir any off the sides of the bowl.
Continue to process, pouring very slowly.
Store in a glass jar in the fridge.
There are belabored videos out there that make aioli seem complicated and time consuming.  It’s not. Five minutes and you have a lovely golden jar that will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge. What we’ve been loving this spring is aioli with a plate of vegetables. Or, you can take out a couple of tablespoons, thin it with more olive oil and use it as a dressing for crisp romaine and avocado salad. A little dab on grilled fish is just right. Of course, spread liberally on sandwiches. Use instead of mayonnaise when you make chicken salad. Flavor it with chopped chives or tarragon or thyme.  And, surprise, lavish a bit on corn or the cob. Aioli is terrific to have on hand and just totally will spoil you for mayonnaise. In the South Duke’s Mayonnaise is a household word.  Sorry, Duke’s, your soybean oil just does not cut it!




If you make a batch, let me know your favorite ways to use it.  Welcome summer! More later…..