Rouille

rouille1Hailing from Provence, this homemade mayonnaise with garlic and saffron is known as rouille — rust in French — because of its bright orange color. It is traditionally served with bouillabaisse, but may also be used to add zing alongside vegetables, fish or meat. Unlike mayonnaise from northern France, this southern version is made using just olive oil, and not a mixture. Plan to make the rouille at least an hour ahead of serving to allow the flavors to blend and intensify.

2 egg yolks at room temperature
3/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
1 small dried cayenne pepper
pinch of powdered saffron (1 gram)
1/4 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper

Place the yolks in a ceramic or glass bowl heavy enough to hold still while you stir. Add a few drops of lemon juice. Stir to blend thoroughly.

Now begin adding the oil drop by drop, stirring constantly. The easiest method I’ve found is to hold the oil bottle in my left hand with the tip resting on the edge of the bowl, and to stir with my right hand. Once the sauce starts to hold together, you may add the oil more quickly, but be careful not to overwhelm the sauce or it may separate.

Now add the rest of the lemon juice. Peel the garlic and put it through a press directly into the bowl. (If you have a mortar and pestle, you can use it to crush the garlic instead as they do in Provence.) Stir. Using a paper towel, crumble the cayenne pepper into the bowl. Add the saffron, salt and pepper and stir again. Taste and reseason if necessary. If you’d like a stiffer sauce, add 2-4 tablespoons more oil.

This recipe makes about 1 cup of rouille. If you don’t need it all right away, place what’s left in a clean jar, cover tightly and refrigerate. It will keep for about a week.


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