Why isn't my aioli delicious?
I have a recipe from Cook's Illustrated for Roasted Garlic Aioli, and somehow it's just...meh. It broke the first time I made it, but I had success this time, followed the directions carefully, etc.--it doesn't taste that strongly of garlic, despite a whole head in there, and it tastes a little sour, even though I used all fresh stuff and a good olive oil, as called for, that I use all the time, so I know I normally like the flavor. It's just not sweet and garlicky and lickable all on its own like good restaurant aioli. Any thoughts, hints, alternative recipes to share?
Ah, that might help! =P Though I think it's this recipe, because last time, even though it broke, the flavor didn't seem to be melding right before that. 1 1/2 tbs of lemon juice, 1 egg yolk (free range organic) whisked together with 1 whole head of garlic, pre-roasted until soft at 400 with a little olive oil. Then, a pinch or so of dry mustard, a little salt and pepper whisked in. Finally, the slow add of 3/4 cup EVOO, all whisked by hand. I did just remember that the recipe called for cayenne pepper, which I left out because I can't eat spicy, but I've never had a spicy classic aioli before and thought it was an odd addition. Then more salt and pepper to taste. But it tastes a little sour and blah. It's not awful, just not worth the arm-muscle burn.
Mine uses 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar for the acid, rather than lemon juice. Some of the lemons I've had lately have a strange flavor. don't know why, but that could be the problem.
In the interest of "science," here's my version:
makes 2 cups
1 tablespoon fine, dry, unflavored breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
6 garlic cloves, chopped
3 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1. Soak the breadcrumbs in 1 tablespoon of wine vinegar for 5 minutes, then squeeze the crumbs dry in the corner of a towel.
2. In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, chop the garlic, then add crumbs and combine with garlic to make a smooth paste. Add egg yolks, and all the other ingredients except the oil and combine. Scrape down sides. Now, with the motor running, add olive oil in a slow, steady stream. When all the oil is in, you have aïoli. Voilà!!
I'm thinking that the aioli that you've had a liked at restaurants was based on manufactured mayonaisse which is totally different from a home made aioli in flavor. Maybe you can add a pinch of sugar or a little more oil. And to up the garlic flavor add some finely minced raw garlic.
A friend of mine who makes the most amazing aioli in the world never uses EVOO. She only uses canola oil or sometimes grapeseed oil. Her theory is that Olive Oil, while generally wonderful, is too strong for Aioli and you need a flavorless oil that will not overwhelm the aioli.
You probably have several problems. For one, I would ditch the Cook's Illustrated Recipe and get yourself a copy of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Her section on mayonnaise has never led me astray, from bringing back a broken sauce, to fixing one that's not flavored properly. Her aioli recipe is very different from the one you made, in part calling for the (raw) garlic to be pounded in a mortar with bread and vinegar until it forms a very smooth paste before proceeding, for instance.
From looking at your ingredients, I would say the sour was likely from your EVOO -- extra virgin olive oil (I'm assuming that's what you meant when you said you used a "good olive oil" ) has a very strong fruity flavor and can have bitter notes. My favorite homemade mayo recipes typically DON'T involve EVOO, as the strong flavor of the oil dominates the sauce. There is a time and a place for EVOO, and a time and a place for both regular olive oil and vegetable oil, and for vinaigrettes and aiolis, I prefer the latter. Sometimes, for these kinds of sauces/vinaigrettes, I will use a combination of EVOO and a lighter flavored oil, but in those cases, EVOO must be used carefully -- and you have to use your taste buds to determine when is too much Extra Virgin oil. My best french vinaigrette dressing is made with 100% vegetable oil.
The other potential culprit could be your garlic. Some garlic can have a bitter edge. Was it really fully roasted? I.e. roasted until it was like butter?
The third option is that you didn't salt enough.
If you want a less bitter sauce, I'd look first to your recipe. Make Julia's recipe for aioli and see if it meets your expectations. If you want to stick with your recipe, I'd look first to your oil, then to your garlic and last to your salt content.
Dana and Tom, I must confess to being mystefied regarding the suggestion to ditch the olive oil. By definition, aioli without olive oil isn't aioli, it's garlic-flavored mayonnaise -- which is all fine and good, but a different beast altogether. Of course, by using roasted garlic, thursday, you're already making something completely different. I can't speak to the restaurants you frequent, but if they prepare their aioli in a traditional manner and that's what you're trying to match, your first step is to ditch the roasted garlic in favor of raw. Jayt90's link will put you on the right path.
Regarding the sourness, I have two thoughts. First, was your roasted garlic oddly sour going in? This happened to me once and I never did determine the cause -- bad head, roasted too long or to short -- not sure, but Dana's suggestion that it may have been underroasted seems plausible to me. In any case, being that it happened to me once, I wonder if the same didn't happen to you, though I imagine you'd have known that from tasting the garlic once roasted before adding to the sauce. More likely, I suspect it's a matter of olive oil selection. What type of olive oil did you use? It may be superb, but that doesn't necessarily make it good for aioli. If what you normally use is something heavy and robust, that could be your problem. Olive oils run the gamut of flavors like wine (an exaggeration, but you take my point), and just as you can't substitute Barolo for Beaujolais Nouveau, you can't substitute a heavy Tuscan olive oil for the light olive oils of Provence. I suspect you'll find that a lighter flavored oil will get you much closer to what you're looking for. But I must respectfully disagree with the suggestions upthread to forego the EVOO. Unless you want to make garlic mayonnaise, that flavor is absolutely critical.
I didn't say to ditch the olive oil, I said to ditch the EXTRA VIRGIN olive oil or to be more judicious in its use and balance it with a lighter tasting regular olive oil or vegetable oil.
I do agree with your suggestion to try different EVOOs, as some are much stronger flavored than others (and some cheap EVOO is just harsh and difficult to use in anything without overwhelming the taste). If the original poster wasn't aware of the variety of flavors of EVOO, he or she just might not have realized that it was the EVOO that had ruined his aioli. In a situation where you are working with a strong flavored EVOO, you most definitely can save the sauce by using it in a mix with a lighter flavored oil -- it may not be strictly traditional, but it will taste better, and in the end, isn't that the most important thing?
"it may not be strictly traditional, but it will taste better, and in the end, isn't that the most important thing?"
Absolutely, absolutely, always always.
My "aioli / not aioli" comments weren't meant to imply superiority, I'm just a hater of debased culinary terms.
And I agree, if you have a very heavy EVOO, you're probably better off cutting it with something lighter (and like you, Dana, I'm in what seems to be the minority that feels non-EV has its place), but I think you're better off still simply making it with a lighter EVOO.
Good point...I was just trying to get it to taste better. I don't think I realized one HAD to use Olive Oil for it to be considered aioli. Is that the only difference between mayo and aioli? At what point for you does aioli become 'not aioli' if even adding roasted garlic makes it not aioli? Just curious.
re: Tom P
Aioli is a very specific traditional dish. Egg, raw garlic, salt and EVOO. Take out the egg and you've got allioli (Spanish). Of course, as with a lot of traditional dishes there are minor variants. The use of a small amount of dijon mustard, or thickening with a bit of potato, for example. But yeah, if those three primary components aren't present, what you have may very well be delicious (you may even consider it more delicious!). It just isn't aioli.
Incidentally, Tom, I think using roasted garlic is a MUCH bigger change than substituting another oil. Roasted and raw are two completely different flavor profiles... they taste nothing alike.
You could try this recipe based on one of Deborah Madison's.
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 TB dijon mustard
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 c. peanut oil
2 TB EVOO
Put the eggs into a food processor with the mustard and salt. Turn processor on continuous and pour the peanut oil into the opening as a **very** slow stream. When all the oil is poured top it with the EVOO also adding it very slowly then add the lemon juice.
Although it may not make a 'true' aioli, I whisk in a few cloves of garlic that I've pounded in a mortar with a touch of salt (sometimes with a few leaves of fresh basil from the garden in summer also pounded in the mortar).
Great flavor on grilled salmon and it typically lasts a few weeks in the frig.
FWIW I've done the manual whisking of this (using only one egg yolk and 3/4 cup of peanut oil) many times before but although it tastes great when first made, the emulsion never holds up more than a few days in the frig.
Here is a website that may be of interest to everyone reading this thread:
I, also, tried to use roasted garlic to make Aioli, but it didn't work out. Seems like roasting mellows that pungent, tasty quality that we want for Aioli. I used one-half OO and one-half canola oil in the recipe. I used a whole head of roasted garlic and couldn't get the taste that was wanted, so tossed in a couple of raw garlic cloves before stopping the food processor. DH thought it was satisfactory, but I wanted a more garlicky flavor.
Have made Alioli a couple of times since, but use the fresh, raw cloves. Much tastier !!!
Thanks so much for the suggestions and links! The aioli did mellow out a little after a day in the fridge, but the above suggestions were really helpful--I think it is the call for roasted garlic I wasn't loving. I love roasted garlic, but it is far mellower than raw and I think it took out the zip. Also, I think next time I'll try a lighter olive oil--the slight olive flavor is nice, but the one I usually use is a pretty strong flavor, and it was probably coming through. More suggestions and recipes are always welcome!--but now I'm excited to try my hand at this again!