Aioli Monstre

Any excuse to eat garlic is what I say, and there is no better way to eat garlic in the summer than the grand dish of Provence: Aioli Monstre or Grand Aioli.  And what could be better than eating Red Hook Garlic? — Jason Adams

{Recipe after the jump.}

Aioli Monstre

Serves about 4-8 (all depends on how long you spend at the table)

Ingredients for the Aioli:

  • 1 head (about 3-4 large cloves) CSA garlic
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Zest and juice from ½ lemon
  • 1 cup olive oil – not too strong tasting
  • Fennel fronds
  • Salt

Ingredients for the Monstre:

  • 2 lbs cod fillets – about one inch thick at its thickest.
  • 2 lbs mussels
  • 1 lb CSA potatoes or fingerling potatoes
  • 1 lb CSA skinny carrots, peeled
  • ½ lb CSA string beans, ends sniped off
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and quartered – fronds reserved for the Aioli
  • 1 bunch of small CSA beets
  • ½ cup Nicoise olives
  • Olive oil
  • 1 bottle dry white wine

Preparing the Aioli:

There are lots of ways to make Aioli, which is mayonnaise by any other name.  The pure traditionalists insist on using only a mortar and pestle; the modernists use a blender or food processor.  I make mine with a microplane and a large wire whisk.

You want to start with everything at room temperature — so be sure to pull the eggs out of the refrigerator at least a half an hour prior to using them.  Grate the garlic on the microplane into a medium size bowl.  Add about one teaspoon coarse salt and the egg yolks.  Traditionally the salt is pounded into the garlic to make a fine paste – to avoid a bunch of chunks of raw garlic – the microplane takes care of that problem.

Whisk everything to combine.

Take a deep breath, get comfortable, and begin whisking in the olive oil very slowly, drop by drop as they say.  When you have whisked in about ¼ of the olive oil and you have a loose yellow sauce you can start adding the oil in a fine stream.  Just keep the whisk moving as you add the balance of the oil.  If you are strong and over whisk the aioli, it will get thick and glue like.  Just add a little water to thin it down.  If you add the oil too fast and the sauce breaks or fails to emulsify try whisking in another egg yolk.

Add the lemon juice and zest, stir to combine.

Taste for seasoning and add more salt and/or lemon juice to taste.

Chop up the fennel fronds and fold them in.

Cover and refrigerate.

Preparing the Monstre:

You can steam or boil all of the vegetables separately or all together (keep the beets separate) as described in this NY Times recipe, which I have modified based upon my experience:

Place potatoes in a saucepan big enough for all the vegetables; cover with water. Over high heat, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Add carrots and cook 3 minutes. Add string beans and the fennel bulb cook 7 minutes more. Drain.

Arrange carrots and string beans on a large platter. Cut potatoes in half vertically and slice fennel and place on the platter.  Drizzle olive oil on top of the potatoes while they are still hot. Set platter aside while you cook the fish.

Bring 1 cup wine to a simmer in a pan large enough to hold seafood in a single layer. Add mussels; cover and cook until they open, about 3-4 minutes. Scoop mussels from pan, place on the platter with the vegetables, leaving liquid. Add fish to pan, cutting it in pieces as needed to fit the pan. Add enough wine to cover fish, bring to a simmer, cover, and set aside and let it cool in pan 10 minutes.

Remove the fish from the pan and place on the platter with the vegetables and the mussels.  Drizzle the fish with a little olive oil.  Scatter the olives over the dish.

Serving:

Bring the rather large and impressive platter to the table, passing it around for all to take some of everything.  Pass the aioli and the wine and enjoy.  This dish is served at room temperature so it can be made and eaten at leisure – the longer you sit the more you’ll eat.

Wine Pairing:

For a wine pairing there is only one recommendation: Lots of chilled rosé. For the Grand Aioli I can recommend perhaps the grandest rosé, Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé.  Or I would be just as happy if not happier with a 2010 Les Comptoirs de Magdala – Magdala Boxed Rose Vin de Pays de Mont Caume (3L) – yep, three liters of goodness.

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