Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Turkey, Apple and Bacon Sandwich with Cranberry Aioli



My previous understanding of the term 'aioli' was basically that it meant 'fancy mayo'.  To find out more, I went to my trusty food-informant (the world wide web) and it seemed I wasn't the only one who was curious about the difference between the two condiments.

What I learned is that purists would consider a traditional aioli to be an emulsion of garlic, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil, ground and combined with a mortar and pestle.  No exceptions, no substitutions.

Then, classic French aioli took the traditional recipe and added a single ingredient, egg yolk.  The result is what we would call garlic mayonnaise.  The addition of the egg yolk significantly increased the emulsion power and now, thankfully, because the egg emulsion isn't as delicate as the garlic-only emulsion, the ingredients can be whisked by hand or with an electric blender.  Remove the garlic from this recipe and we have good ol' fashioned mayo.


These days, aioli, as a popular term, is being used interchangeably to refer to any of these three recipes.  This shift in the use of the term can be confusing.  Does the aioli contain garlic?  Does it contain egg?  Is it really just store bought mayo?

We also have variations on aioli where new ingredients are added for flavor.  For example, we might find chipotle aioli or this recipe's cranberry aioli.

That ingredient-dependent nomenclature occurs because, with the exception of saffron and chile aioli, called rouille, we don't have a word for these flavored aiolis like we do for the hollandaise family.  (Hollandaise is another emulsion based sauce using egg and warm butter instead of oil.  Tarragon hollandaise is called bearnaise sauce (phenomenal on steak), dijon hollandaise is called moutarde (popular on scotch eggs and chicken) and blood orange hollandaise is called maltaise (great on fish).)

Aioli can be somewhat finicky to make.  We are trying to combine two ingredients that don't want to be combined.  It must be done slowly.  I navigated through a couple trial runs to get things right, but now that I've got the process down, it would be hard to mess up.  Hopefully understanding my mistakes will allow you to skip that trial run portion and just get on with your mayo-making.

In the past my flavored aiolis that have turned out just fine, but my first attempt at this cranberry aioli was literally pink soup (see those embarrassing results below).  In frustration, I gave up and just mixed some of my pink soup failure with store bought mayo.  It was a fine cheat, but I knew what my recipe could (and should) have been and I wanted that smooth, light consistency of homemade mayo where store bought is rather heavy and thick.


Looking back, it turns out I had forgotten one very important first step: bring the yolks to room temperature.  Making this small change will allow the emulsion to form easily.

I made a couple other mistakes this time around, too.  When using my food processor's large bowl, the egg sat so low in the bowl that the spinning blades weren't doing any mixing.  I switched back to my immersion blender with much better results.  (Man, I love that thing.)  Be sure to drip the oil in very, very slowly to give the emulsion time to form.  Also, one of the recipes I had tried called for vinegar which, in my opinion, seriously overpowered the other more delicate flavors.  I've omitted it from the recipe below so that the cranberry and orange can really shine.

Aioli is a pretty great vessel for a lot of different flavors.  Even the vinegar.  I bet that would taste great if we were making a vinegar-garlic aioli for dipping fries.  Doug loves when I make horseradish aioli to spread on steak and I've also made jalepeno-lime aioli as a shrimp dip in place of cocktail sauce.

My homemade spread has lasted for a month in the fridge.


One more quick note, I cut the extra virgin olive oil with vegetable oil to tone down the strong flavor of the extra virgin.  Adjust the quantities to your taste, if you'd like!


Cranberry Aioli
1 cup
  • 2 cloves garlic - smashed
  • 2 egg yolks - room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons orange juice
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries - chopped finely
  • 1/4 cup fresh or frozen cranberries - chopped finely
  • pinch of salt and pepper
Place garlic, both yolks and the lemon juice in a bowl and blend for 30 seconds or until the yolks become lighter in color and creamy.  Mix together the oils and, while continuing to blend, very slowly begin drizzling the oil into the egg.  Once approximately 1/3 of the oil is incorporated, you can begin to pour it a little bit faster.  Continue blending until smooth and thick.

Add the OJ and cranberries while still beating and salt and pepper to taste.


I love to crisp up the bread and melt the cheese for sandwiches before adding the remaining ingredients.  I bought rosemary olive bread for this sandwich and the flavor worked really well.

When I want to cut the apple slices a little earlier than I will be assembling the sandwiches, I store the slices in the fridge in a ziplock baggy with some lemon juice to keep the slices from browning.  (The apple slices in the top photo had actually been stored this way for two full days before I took that picture.  You can see they have browned a little, but not too badly, and they were certainly still nice and crisp.)

Turkey Sandwich
4 sandwiches
  • 8 slices of bread 
  • 4 slices of fontina cheese
  • 4 slices of turkey breast
  • 4 slices of bacon - cooked
  • 1 empire apple - cut into thin slices
  • spinach
  • cranberry aioli (recipe above)
Place bread slices on a cookie sheet.  Cover 4 of the slices with cheese.  Place under the broiler for 2 minutes or until the cheese melts.  Layer on the turkey, bacon, apple and spinach.  Spread the aioli on the non-cheesed slice of bread.

Eat it up!


A mini version of this sandwich was one of the eight courses I served
at the Pasta, Passion and Pistols party with cauliflower soup
and miniature solo cups of Innis and Gunn.

10 comments: