Roasted Red Pepper Aioli
1 Big Fat Sweet Red Bell Pepper
8 Garlic cloves
4 Tbs. Olive Oil
2 Large eggs, separated (you'll use only the yolks)
1 Tsp. Colman's powdered mustard
1 Tsp. White or red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cup Olive Oil
Optional: Fresh basil leaves to taste
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Aioli is kinda like France's answer to McDonald's "special sauce;"
the one that goes on the inimitable Big Mac Hamburger sandwich. Now, McDonald's'
sauce is full of icky stuff like MSG and Corn Syrup. Aioli, on the other hand,
is a delightfully elegant sauce that lends itself to many uses on grilled,
poached or roasted meats and fish.
This recipe assumes you have either a blender or a food processor. It can,
however, be made by hand by a patient cook. If you do choose to do it the
old-fashioned way, the aioli will have a chunkier, more rewarding mouth-feel. It
will also turn out flecked with the red pepper, rather than just being a pureed,
red-colored sauce. Either way is great; do what you want (or need) to do.
Start by charring the red pepper: place the red pepper on top of a gas burner
(yep, no pan!) start the burner and thoroughly char the skin of the red pepper,
turning it after each side is done. The pepper should be able to rest on each of
its four sides, and top, on the burner, so that the skin turns black and bubbly
as each side is done. Try not to burn the tender flesh underneath the skin. Electric Stove*: charring a pepper over an electric burner can be an ordeal. Hold the pepper on the end of a long fork (grilling fork) very close to, but not touching, the burner element. Slowly but surely, the outer skin will char. Take extra caution to keep the pepper close to the burner, but without touching it. Heat a pepper too long and you'll end up burning the pepper's inner flesh.
When you're done, you can place the charred pepper in a sink and use running
water to flush away the burnt skin (revealing all kinds of roasted red pepper
goodness underneath. The pepper will be quite hot, so use caution. Once the
pepper's charred skin is completely removed, slice the pepper open and remove
all the pith and the seeds. Coarsely cut the pepper into pieces and set aside.
In a very small pot or pan, place the garlic cloves with the olive oil. Cook
on very low heat so as to cook the garlic, not brown it. This is called
"mellowing" the garlic. The cloves should emerge from this process tender to the
touch and looking somewhat translucent on the outside. Mash the finished cloves
into the oil with the back of a spoon.
Now, into the food bowl of your food processor (or the hopper of a blender)
place the egg yolks, mustard and vinegar. Start the motor and gradually add the
oil in a thin stream (you'll be making an emulsified sauce). Half way through,
drop in the mashed garlic/oil mixture and the pepper pieces. Add the rest of the
oil, the basil leaves and seasoning and process the sauce for about 20 seconds.
If you plan on making the sauce by hand: Mince the red pepper as fine as you
can get it (1/8" dice is optimal). Whisk together the egg, mustard, and vinegar.
Add the oil in droplets, whisking furiously so that the sauce emulsifies. Once you've
achieved a good level of emulsification (like thin mayonnaise) you can safely add the red
pepper and the garlic. Whisk like crazy until thick. Check the seasoning.
This sauce should keep up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
*The Debutante messaged: "You can of course, blacken a pepper beneath a grill. Works very well if you've only an electric hob." She also mentioned that after charring, an alternative method for getting the charred skin off is placing the charred pepper into a zip-lock bag to sit for about ten minutes. Then the charred skin can be removed by scraping gently with a knife or wiping with a clean cloth.