Tuesday, May 18, 2010

L’Aioli de Provence

The following recipe is taken from my upcoming book A Feast at the Beach. While it is indeed a novel that takes place in Provence, it also contains a dozen or so recipes of classic foods and drinks of that most wonderful part of France. This recipe is just a taste of what you’ll find in the book. I hope you enjoy it.

L’Aioli de Provence

I never like the aioli I get in the States because it frankly just isn’t garlicky enough, not to mention the strange things I’ve seen put in it, like sugar and relish? I once entered into a futile argument with a waitress when I tried to explain to her that aioli had garlic in it, (she said it didn’t) and in fact the word is derived from the old terms for garlic and oil.
    Aioli in Provence has a kick. A swift, wide and powerful one. It isn’t shy. That’s how I make my aioli. The truly old fashion approach is to use a mortar and pestle to crush the garlic, and while that is the most traditional, I do use the minor short cuts of a garlic press and a hand held wire whisk (or mixer when working in volumes), but I shortcut only in my tools, not my ingredients.
    While it is also traditional to use aioli with fish or steamed vegetables, I often use aioli in place of mayonnaise, such as in sandwiches. It is also delicious as a dip when making steamed artichokes, or for dipping French fries.

    2 egg yolks from fresh high quality eggs
    5 garlic cloves (a few more if you
    wish, but no less!)
    1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon
    1/4 teaspoon Mediterranean Sea salt
    1 large pinch of saffron threads
    1 cups olive oil
    1 tablespoon warm water

Crush the garlic well, the closer to a paste the better, and place in a large bowl. Add egg yolks, lemon juice, salt, and crushed dried saffron threads. Whisk these together until well blended.
    While whipping constantly dribble in the olive oil, starting with a very slow dribble. When about half the olive oil has been used, add the tablespoon of warm water. Continue whipping and dribbling in the olive oil until all the olive oil is used up. Store in the refrigerator in a glass container that seals well.

Note: The aioli is sharpest right after making, and mellows over time. I suggest you make it at least 4 hours before you plan on using. You will also notice these strange dark spots with an orange halo start to show up. These are the tiny bits of saffron threads releasing their wonderful essence into the aioli, and a good sign.

Bon appetit,
Le Capitaine

P.S. Pick up a copy of the book at Amazon, Borders, or Barnes & Noble

Hanging out in the beautiful town of Ménerbes, in the Luberon mountains, in Provence.  -Photo: Tiaré Ferrari


  1. A dollop on the sauce Bearnaise for Eggs Benedict would be awesome, wouldn't it?

    Frere Jacques en Nantucket

  2. Do you mainly use this on pasta? What are other uses?

  3. YUMMY! Sounds delicious! Bon appetit!

  4. 1. Traditionalists would tell you Eggs Benedict should be done with Hollandaise not Bearnaise, but in fact Bernaise would be quote good and since it is technically a "daughter sauce" of Hollandaise why not, and a dollop of aioli on top would just make it better!

    2. Aioli is most commonly served with baked or poached fish, as well as steamed or roasted vegies. But it also works well as a dip for steamed artichokes, French fries, carrot or celery sticks, fresh bread, etc. Makes instant garlic bread - just spread some on and toast, and basically can be used in the place of mayonnaise such as in sandwiches. It is not commonly used on pasta, though it could be...

    3. Merci!

  5. Excellent!!!! I wholeheartedly agree with you! I am excited to use this recipe!

  6. I like your Blog format..... and I like the recipe..... In 1993-1998, I owned a Spanish restaurant and Night Club in San Diego's downtown gas-lamp district called Ole Madrid. On the tables we would server a Spanish salsa and fresh 1 inch pieces of french baguettes cut on a bias. When seated the waiter or waitress would bring you a dish of Aioli that we made in 5 gallon buckets with a large immersible blender. There was plenty of garlic and everyone loved it. We never had a complaint.

  7. Kamaka - Thank you. Sounds like you guys made it right! Paella with a side of aioli would be awesome!
    Most restaurants substantially reduce the garlic content to appease "American tastes" when I think they might be actually better off to go with the true recipes. Then again sometimes you just wonder what the chef was thinking, like when you are suppose to get Hollandaise and it's a Velveta cheese sauce...

  8. VEry charmed INDEED. NOthing beats the real thing. Thank you so much for getting it back into circulation. Love Astrid