Le Grand Aioli
- SERVINGS: 8
The feast known as Le Grand Aioli is a rather simple meal of boiled fish and vegetables; the aioli—that golden garlic-scented mayonnaise—is what turns the meal into a gastronomic celebration, the very symbol of Provençal cuisine. Ideally, a grand aioli should feature at least six components, but writer Nancy Harmon Jenkins has known people to be utterly content with nothing but potatoes boiled in their jackets—as long as there was plenty of aioli.
- 2 pounds white fish fillets, such as cod or grouper, about 1 inch thick
- Coarse sea salt
- 1 cup dried chickpeas (7 ounces)—picked over, rinsed, soaked overnight and drained
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 garlic cloves
- 8 medium artichokes
- 1/2 lemon
- 8 large hard-cooked eggs, peeled
- 1 1/2 pounds medium beets, boiled and peeled (see Note)
- 1 1/2 pounds medium carrots, peeled and boiled
- 8 boiled medium yellow-fleshed potatoes, such as Yellow Finn or Yukon Gold
- 1 cauliflower, cut into large florets and boiled
- 1 pound green beans, boiled and refreshed in cold water
- Aromatic Snails
- Classic Aioli or Aioli-Style Mayonnaise
- Sprinkle the fish fillets on both sides with 2 tablespoons of sea salt. Arrange the fish on a wire rack set over a pan to catch any juices. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, rinse the fish thoroughly. Bring a large deep skillet of water to a simmer. Add the fish and poach it gently over low heat until just cooked through, about 8 minutes. Transfer the fish to a large platter and pat dry.
- In a saucepan, combine the chickpeas with the bay leaves and garlic. Add water to cover and bring to a simmer over moderate heat. Cover and cook gently until the chickpeas are tender, 1 to 2 hours, adding more water if necessary. Drain and discard the bay leaves and garlic.
- Trim the stems from the artichokes and snap off the tough leaves. Cut off the top third of each artichoke and rub the artichokes all over with the lemon. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, simmer the artichokes over moderate heat until the bottoms are tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes. Drain the artichokes and, when cool enough to handle, pull out the inner leaves. Using a teaspoon, scrape out the hairy chokes. Quarter the artichokes.
- To serve, arrange the fish, eggs, vegetables and snails on platters and put the chickpeas and aioli in bowls.