***Pre-post: You might not have heard, but I’m giving away a $50 Williams Sonoma gift card! No strings attached. I won’t make you grovel for it, though I’d like to. You just have to go to this post to enter. /pre-post*** CONTEST IS CLOSED. Congratulations to the winner, Denise M., who is going to put the $50 gift card toward a dutch oven!
I know exactly why you’re giving me that stink face, and for the most part I’m right there with you. When anchovies are slandered high and low, with their presence in any dish a criminal offense worthy of cook’s castration, it’s hard to want to give them a chance.
When I was a kid, I offered them a chance at overcoming the libelous venom directed toward their existence in American cuisine. I ordered a pizza whose crisped mozzarella was crosshatched with slick bodies of salted anchovies and figured, how bad could they really be? That uneaten pizza has been festering in a dump somewhere for the last fifteen years.
Anchovies, to be polite, taste like grizzly bear grundle in the summer. They’re only about nine shades more favorable than sepsis, and the smell does them no kind favors either. But sometimes even the most foul of ingredients can be used for good.
Last week I met up with local foodies and food bloggers at Flamestone Grill for a Chile Olive Oil tasting event hosted by the lovely Family Foodie, Isabel. The event’s menu was developed by chef Erick Lackey using the Chile Olive Oil’s smooth EVOO and included dishes like agave soaked chicken with red wine Bermuda onions, cast iron seared polenta crusted Chilean sea bass with toasted pepita, portabella and goat cheese with a porcini and white truffle cappallacci, and…It was a lot of really serious, really good food.
But the star of the show, for me, was the white anchovy aioli. My once loathed arch nemesis, that dirty, dank tasting anchovy, was making appeals against my previous hatred for it. And winning.
Since the event I’d been trying to recreate the aioli using different combinations of olive and grapeseed oils, dry and Dijon mustards, lemon and vinegars for the acids, different blending methods to produce the best consistency, and, of course, the right amount of anchovy paste. After many clumpy, broken or runny and extremely fishy tasting failures, I finally came to a well-seasoned, coherent and almost identical recipe.
The thing is, when you put distance between the time you first tasted the delicious original and then fill that time with various versions of heavy garlic, super fishy not-quite-there substitutes, your original vision of what it was becomes a little distorted. And you now smell like you have trench mouth, so congratulations.
GARLIC ANCHOVY AIOLI
Recipe: Garlic Anchovy Aioli
Preparation time: 10 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 3
- 1 fresh egg yolk
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp dry, ground mustard
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 ½ tsp white wine vinegar
- ¼ cup grapeseed oil
- 1 tsp anchovy paste
- Add egg yolk, mustard and salt in a clean glass or metal bowl and whisk vigorously for two minutes to combine and warm up yolks. (You can use a stand mixer with a wire whisk attachment for this).
- Continuing to whisk vigorously, begin adding oil one to two drops at a time until you can see that the yolk is emulsifying with the oil, then continue to add oil in a slow, thin, steady stream while continually whisking. If the mixture looks to be separating, then you are adding the oil too quickly. Stop adding oil and continue to whisk until the oil incorporates itself back into the yolk mixture.
- Halfway through adding the oil, add white wine vinegar and then finish adding the oil.
- Once the oil has been added, you should have a consistency similar to that of mayonnaise. Add anchovy paste, garlic, white pepper, paprika and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.