Extra-virgin in the Kitchen

Cooking with extra-virgin: It’s not always at the stove.

In this farmhouse kitchen in deepest Provence, it’s an aioli, garlic mayonnaise, served with poached salt cod and vegetables but equally delicious with simple grilled fish or dolloped on a medium-rare steak or burger.

Traditionally it’s done with a mortar and pestle, crushing the garlic to a paste with salt, adding egg yolks and then oil, slowly, drop by drop in a thin thread, until the whole mounts and emulsifies into this lush confection.

Truth to tell, you can also make aioli in a food processor, in which case I like to use a whole egg to produce a lighter sauce. But the vigorous beating of the food processor can bring out garlic’s bitterness so when using the processor, hold the garlic and salt until the very end, then whisk it in when the mayo (for that’s what this really is) is fully mounted.

Proportions: If you’re using a traditional mortar and pestle, 4 to 6 garlic cloves, pinch of sea salt, 2 egg yolks, juice of half a lemon, and about 1 1/2 cups of fruity olive oil; in the food processor, you’ll want 1 whole egg instead of the yolks, and hold the garlic and salt until the very end.

You’ll find this and 99 other recipes for using extra-virgin in the modern kitchen in Virgin Territory: Exploring the World of Olive Oil.

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