“First Date” Poached Garlic Aioli

Here’s a fact: If you cook barbeque, you are going eat a lot of sandwiches at some point. This isn’t a bad thing, not at all. There is something almost magical about the combination of barbeque meat and really good bread.

But just because “meat and bread” is an awesome combo, that doesn’t mean you should stop there. The right condiments can take a great sandwich into the taste stratosphere. And I’m not talking about run-of-the-mill supermarket mayo here. I’m talking garlic, and lots of it. I’m talking flavour.

The simplicity of this garlic concoction means that it pairs perfectly with all of the mainline barbeque meats – beef, pork, or chicken – and it’s dead easy to make. Convenient and energy efficient, too … the next time you have your oven (or better yet, your Big Green Egg) already cooking something at the remarkably common temperature of 175 degrees (that’s about 350 Fahrenheit for you folks in the good ol’ USA) you can pop this in at the same time.

Ready to whip up some garlicky goodness? Keep reading!

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This killer spread requires just a handful of ingredients:

20 cloves of garlic, peeled
Enough olive oil to cover the garlic in your pot
2 eggs
2 teaspoons of paprika
salt to taste

You also need a food processor unless you really like hardcore whisking.
Garlic and oil
Now then. You will notice that all of the items above are things that you are almost 100% guaranteed to have in the house at all times. This is good, because this is a “piggyback” recipe – you make it when something is already cooking and have a few extra minutes to pop something else into the oven. That makes it more or less imperative to have the stuff you need on hand and available without any sort of planning.

Next time you are cooking at 175C / 350F (a remarkably common temperature, you will notice) do this: Peel your 20 cloves of garlic and put them in a small oven-proof saucepan or baking dish. Pour in enough olive oil – and you will notice this is a place I busted out the cheap-o second pressing oil, it works fine here – to completely cover the garlic.
The oil bath, illustrated
The picture gives you an idea of the ideal dimensions of the pot and the amount of oil. However, you will notice that the garlic is not in the pot and I in fact have something else in there. Just pretend it’s garlic. We will talk about what is actually in there later. For now, let’s just say that it wasn’t very pretty.

Ahem. Now you want to pop this into the oven uncovered and let it poach for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes test your garlic by poking one of the cloves with the tip of a sharp knife. If it goes in all the way, you are done. If not, let the poaching process continue for 5 minutes more. Either way, you will notice at this point that you kitchen smells like the most amazing place on earth. Savour it.

When the garlic is done pull it out of the oven and put it aside to cool in the oil. It needs to cool all the way to room temperature. When the cooling is complete fish the garlic out of the oil (do not drain the oil out of the pot, you are going to need it about 30 seconds from now) and give it a quick whiz or two to get the garlic to a mostly smooth paste. Add the two eggs and the paprika and about 1/2 teaspoon of the salt with the food processor off. You don’t want to over-mix here or the aioli is going to bind up.

Now for the actual “aioli” part: Ladle a 1/2 cup or so of the poaching oil (Oh! That aroma!) into an easy-to-pour-from measuring cup. Start your food processor back up and slowly drizzle only as much oil into the garlic mash to get the consistency you like. You probably wont use the entire 1/2 cup, but you do want it to be a bit thinner than you would think because it is going to nicely tighten up when you put it in the fridge. The consistency of nice thick gravy would be a good benchmark to shoot for.

Remember: Nice and slow. That’s the way to do it, nice and slow.

Finally, take a quick taste and add salt as needed. Usually I end up going with about a full teaspoon but your taste may vary, so I left you some wiggle room. Then load it all into a tightly-lidded jar and put it in the fridge for at least 4 hours to let the flavours do their thing. The ingredient amounts above will make one full 250 ml jar which just happens to be a common size of mason-style jar that you probably have around the house in droves, so you can see that I was actually thinking here. You can multiply all the ingredients by any amount if you need to make bigger batches or fill more jars. This will keep for at least a month in the fridge, but I doubt you will ever manage to keep a batch around for that long. It makes any meat in a sandwich stand up and sing. With feeling.

If you do use good olive oil (instead of the no-name second pressing stuff) be sure to save the poaching oil in another glass jar and tuck it away in your cupboard. It makes an incredible addition to any dressing, marinade, sofrtio, or plating oil that you may happen to whip up later.

Oh – and that cubed stuff that was in the pot instead of the garlic? It was horseradish – I got it into my head that roasted horseradish aioli would be an awesome variant on this. And I was wrong. Horribly, tragically, awfully wrong. Don’t try it. Unless you really hate either yourself or your friends. Stick to the garlic.


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