I decided the other day that I would whip up a batch of homemade aioli (garlic mayonnaise) so we could garlic-ify a roasted chicken. This sauce, southern French in origin, is traditionally made in a mortar and pestle, and is often created using a blender these days because there is nearly an hour's worth of mixing involved. I had neither mortar and pestle nor blender, but I was determined to use just what I had available—a Tupperware bowl and a titanium spork.
Carefully, I prepared the ingredients—an egg, salt, garlic, and olive oil. I chopped the garlic, added in the salt and egg, and began adding the oil in what I thought was "a little bit at a time." I mixed and I mixed and I mixed, but what should have become thicker than store bought mayonnaise remained a garlicky mess of liquid olive oil. Ugh.
The next day I decided to try again, this time with a lot more patience and a little more research about emulsification. After all, what else have we got to do? This time I took the time to mash the chopped garlic into the salt with the edge of my pocket knife until it became a paste. I used two egg yolks, and no whites. I stabilized the bowl with a towel and then took it a lot slower, forcing myself to add just a single drip of olive oil at a time as I stirred constantly.
And sure enough, like magic, a sauce formed and thickened right before my very eyes. It was delicious, and well worth the wait.
Here's a recipe:
Two egg yolks
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 teaspoon (approximately) of salt
1 cup olive oil
Chop garlic, then mash it into the salt with the blade of a knife. Scrape into a bowl and mix in the egg yolks. DRIP by DRIP add olive oil while stirring the mixture constantly. Make sure each drip gets incorporated before adding the next. When the mixture is thickened, you can start to add a little more at a time, but I never added more than a "dribble" at a time, to ensure my success.