This is Basque Week at Anisette Brasserie in Santa Monica, where chef-owner Alain Giraud and chef de cuisine Joshua Smith have been offering a 6 course menu showcasing the cuisine of the region. Piperade with farm egg, salt cod 'pil pil,' pork 'a la Basque' with roasted red peppers and Piment D'Espelette. And to finish, a Gateau Basque with prune and Armagnac ice cream. But if you can't make it to the brasserie before Basquefest ends on Saturday, no worries. Smith has kindly provided a pretty amazing dish that you can make at home: confit fingerling potatoes, cooked in olive oil before being pan roasted, then topped with a large spoonful of aïoli made with confit garlic. Well, really it's more like a bowlful, which is about what you'll need if anyone gets near it before you put it out on the table. The dish isn't on the Basque menu, nor on the regular menu either, although both Smith and Giraud think it probably will be now.
Aïoli is the kind of sauce that makes cardboard taste good. "It's a simple place to start," says Smith. When the French-born Giraud was a teenager coming up through the ranks in France, he worked for Restaurant l'Ermitage Meissonnier for 5 years. "Each year, we used to cook an aioli for 1,000 people. 4 boxes of 300 eggs," says Giraud. "Just don't call it 'garlic aïoli.' All aïoli has garlic! But not too garlicky. No bullshit."
Aïoli and Confit Fingerling Potatoes
From: Chef de cuisine Joshua Smith of Anisette Brasserie. Smith (along with many chefs and pastry chefs) writes all his recipes in metrics, as they're "easier and more accurate." Small inexpensive kitchen scales can all be switched to read in grams. Or use this gram converter site.
Makes: 2 large servings of confit potatoes and a big bowlful of aïoli.
Note: Confit garlic will keep, fully covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
80 grams whole garlic cloves
100 grams extra virgin olive oil
1. In a saucepan combine the garlic and olive oil and simmer over very low heat for about 5 minutes, making sure that the garlic doesn't caramelize: the garlic should be fully cooked and still white in color.
2. After 5 minutes, pour the mixture into a ceramic bowl and allow to cool and infuse for at least 10 minutes. Reserve.
Makes: about 1 1/2 cups.
35 grams confit garlic
50 grams confit garlic oil
4 grams of whole raw garlic
10 grams of lemon juice, fresh squeezed
4 grams of Champagne vinegar
3 large egg yolks
2 grams sea salt
2 grams of sugar
35 grams boiled fingerling potato, cooled
250 grams grapeseed oil
1. Chill the ingredients. When cold, combine the egg yolks, salt, sugar, cooked potato, champagne vinegar, lemon juice, raw garlic in a food processor.
2. Blend on high speed until fully combined.
3. Mix together the grapeseed oil, confit garlic and garlic oil.
3. When the egg mixture is combined, slowly drizzle the oil and garlic mixture into the food processor while the machine is on and blend until the combined mixture emulsifies into a paste. Pass through a fine mesh strainer and either use immediately or refrigerate until needed.
Confit Fingerling Potatoes:
Note: This recipe lends itself well to almost any aromatic in your garden. Add some rosemary, garlic (in the skin), chili flakes, black peppercorns, thyme or a few sliced shallots to the oil with the potatoes for some extra flavor. Smith suggests cooking the potatoes, which will absorb more flavors as they sit, anywhere from 2 to 5 days in advance.
500 grams of fingerling potatoes
600 grams of olive oil
1. In a sauce pot big enough to accommodate them, slowly bring the potatoes and olive oil to a simmer over low heat. Cook the potatoes (do not stir them) for about 12 minutes, until they're fork tender.
2. When the potatoes are fully cooked, allow them to cool in their cooking oil until they reach room temperature. Once cool, cut all the potatoes in half lengthwise and refrigerate them, in their oil, until you want to serve them.
3. When you are ready to serve the potatoes, bring them to room temperature and strain off the excess oil. Cook them in a cast iron pan over medium heat (you do not need additional oil) until they are a dark golden brown, turning them frequently. They should come out the color of a brown paper bag.
4. Sprinkle the potatoes with a generous amount of sea salt (add fresh minced herbs, freshly ground pepper or spices work if you want) and serve with a spoonful or a bowl of aïoli.