By Elke Probkevitz
Everyone knows that oil and water don’t mix. When you shake oil and water vigorously, they combine for a short time, but then they separate. To get oil and water to make peace, you need a magic ingredient called an emulsifier. Using an emulsifier helps create stable substances like mayonnaise dressing and vinaigrettes.
How it works. To create a successful emulsion, you need two things: an emulsifier and force. Create beautiful aiolis, vinaigrettes, and sauces with the help of the emulsification process.
Emulsifiers are particles that play well with both oil and water. Each particle has one hydrophobic (water-avoiding) end, which attaches to the bits of oil. The other end is a hydrophilic (water-friendly) end, which faces out and forms a water-friendly cocoon around each globule and keeps the oil suspended in water.
Force usually comes in the form of whisking or blending. It breaks apart the oil molecules and disperses them through the surrounding liquid. The emulsifier keeps it from retreating back into itself. You can also use a food processor or blender for this process.
Types of emulsifiers. Some emulsifiers are more effective than others. Egg yolk contains lecithin, which is wonderful to help hold together mayonnaise, aiolis, and hollandaise sauces. Mustard is a great choice for vinaigrettes. Mayonnaise contains egg yolks and is an effective emulsifier in salad dressings. Honey can work alongside mustard in dressings or on its own. Garlic paste can be used to make an egg-free aioli.
Pour slowly, whisk quickly. With aioli or mayonnaise, you must take your time. Oil must be added slowly, a drop at a time, while whisking feverishly so the emulsion doesn’t break. You need to give the oil droplets time to disperse and emulsify before you add more. If it does break, here’s how to fix it: Scrape the broken aioli into a pourable measuring cup. Put a new yolk and pinch of sea salt into a clean bowl. Use the broken aioli like you would the oil and just start whisking it in until it becomes thick and you’ve used it up. Then add more oil a little bit at a time and whisk until you get an aioli. v
Lamb Sliders With Roasted Garlic Aioli
1 whole head of garlic
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 egg yolks
pinch of sea salt
2 tsp. lemon juice
½ cup light olive oil
1½ lb. ground lamb
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
½ tsp. cumin
½ tsp. ground coriander
¼ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp salt
1 Tbsp. fresh mint
1 Tbsp. fresh parsley
1 package pita rounds or any bread you prefer
To make aioli: Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cut off the top of the head of garlic. Place the head of garlic in a ramekin, cut-side up. Pour olive oil over cut side, cover with foil, and roast in oven 25–35 minutes until garlic is soft. When cooked and cooled, pinch garlic out of each clove.
In a food processor, place roasted garlic, egg yolks, salt, and lemon juice and process until smooth. With the motor running, drizzle the oil into the food processor extremely slowly! Once thickened, adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Combine lamb, garlic, cumin, coriander, pepper, salt, mint, and parsley. Shape mixture into four patties. Grill patties over medium-high heat on stovetop, six minutes per side, or until they’ve reached desired degree of doneness.
To serve: Toast pita, spread with aioli, and top with lamb sliders.
Want to learn how to cook delicious gourmet meals right in your own kitchen? Take one-on-one cooking lessons or give a gift to an aspiring cook you know. For more information, contact Take Home Chef personal chef services by calling 516-508-3663, writing to elke@TakeHomeChef.net, or visiting www.TakeHomeChef.net.