Infomercials rarely inspire awe, and yet I vividly remember watching a commercial for a handblender–this was back in the 90s, I think–that showed a glass jar filled with eggs and oil; then the hand blender plunged in, the host pressed a button, and magically it became mayonnaise. It was like watching a David Copperfield special only better: while I couldn’t make the Statue of Liberty disappear, I could buy a handblender and make mayonnaise in a jar. The only catch: I hated mayonnaise. So a handblender I didn’t buy.
Now that I’m old, a few things have changed: 1. I like mayonnaise a lot more than I did (though I’d never want it just by itself on, like, a turkey sandwich; you’d have to mix it with some mustard and lemon juice first); and 2. I own a handblender.
On Saturday, I was flipping through Ferran Adria’s book The Family Meal (I went on a cookbook buying binge recently) and saw his recipe for aioli. When I was in Barcelona, I ate lots of aioli (which is basically a garlic mayonnaise) and enjoyed it so much that when I came back I attempted to make it in a mortar and pestle. That went ok.
But Adria’s recipe was just like that technique I saw in the infomercial. I had to try it.
Only: his recipe called for 8 eggs and 5 cups of olive oil. I decided to halve that and I’m glad I did.
It works like this (memorize this: it’s that easy). Put 3 whole garlic cloves (cut them in half first and remove the green sprouts, if they’re in there) and 4 eggs in the bottom of a glass jar.
Say hello from overhead:
Now add your hand blender and start blending:
And, finally, pour in–gradually–2 1/2 cups of olive oil while still blending.
Confession: I only used 2 cups of oil because it got thick enough and that extra half cup seemed wasteful.
But look how thick it’s getting!
And like magic, 60 seconds later, you have a thick aioli:
Just like in the infomercial:
And that was just two cups of oil–imagine what that extra half cup might do.
Season it, of course, to taste with salt and then use it all kinds of ways. Spread it on sandwiches, stir it into soups, use it as a garnish; I like to stir a little lemon juice into it to give it an extra kick.
But the point is: you really can make magic in your kitchen if you have a handblender and a dream. Thank you Ferran Adria for helping make my infomercial fantasies come true. I feel like the David Copperfield–or at least the Doug Henning–of my kitchen.