Mayonnaise and I have only recently become friends. I spend most of my life eschewing it, preferring anything else on my sandwiches or burgers to the unappetizing white blobby stuff in that blue-lidded jar. I wouldn't eat tuna salad if it was mayo-based, my deviled eggs were to be made with mustard only, and I didn't eat guacamole for the longest time because I had never seen an avocado and I was sure that it could only be that creamy from the addition of the dreaded ingredient.
Oh, how sad and empty my life has been! I've learned how incredibly, completely wrong I was and now I find myself adding mayo to my tuna, to my deviled eggs, and creating dips out of mayo and hardly anything else. I'm still skeptical that it belongs on sandwiches or burgers but I'll happily dip my fries in it!
So how did I get reeducated? Through aioli! This garlicky, lemony sauce was the gateway condiment that showed me just what magic happens when you emulsify egg yolks and oil together. I remember my last meal in Boston five years ago with my sister when the server dropped of a platter of fried artichoke hearts and lemon aioli. I think I hesitated for two seconds before I started reasoning that a condiment made up of three or four simple ingredients couldn't be that bad, or really, bear any resemblance to that jarred stuff, and I eagerly dug in. Fast forward to now, and I've since embraced all of it, aioli, mayonnaise, or what have you, jarred or homemade. I don't think you'll ever see me eat it out of the jar by the spoonful like my grandmother used to (gag), but I'd say I've been converted.
When I wanted to make my own I decided to start with the best source I knew, Julia Child herself. However, I found myself reading an aioli recipe that called for soaked bread and a giant mortar and pestle, so I opted instead to roughly follow her mayonnaise recipe, and continue with the modern trend of calling any flavored mayonnaise aioli, traditional ingredients or not. After looking at a few mayonnaise and aioli recipes online, my version seems to use a smaller amount of oil, but one thing I took from Julia is the warning that until you are a mayonnaise master, its best to err with the lower quantity, so that's what I chose to do.
It came out terrifically, perfect as a spread on lamb sandwiches or as a dip for merguez corn dogs.
Preserved Lemon Aioli Recipe
Loosely adapted from Julia Child.
Makes about 1 cup
1 egg yolk
1 clove garlic
1 tbs preserved lemon, chopped
1/2 tbs lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil (or up to 3/4 cup)
With a mortar and pestle or with the flat of a knife on a cutting board, mash together garlic and salt to form a paste. Add in the preserved lemon and mash to combine.
In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolk, lemon juice, and garlic mixture until combined, then slowly begin incorporating the oil. Whisk in oil, one drop at a time at first (I found it's easy to drip it off of a small spoon), until mixture begins to emulsify and thicken. Once the mixture has thickened considerably, add the oil in a thin stream, whisking constantly, until completely incorporated.
Serve as a condiment as desired. The aioli can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days.