It’s summertime and many a cooks’ thoughts turn to salmonella.
And most thoughts about salmonella center around eggs.
I was once told that more people die in Spain in the summertime from salmonella than from car accidents.
If you have ever driven in Spain you would you would appreciate the horror of that statement.
The basis is as follows:
- Many things in Spain, especially in summer, are served with mayonnaise on the side.
- The mayonnaise is always made in-house.
- The mayonnaise is normally in a large bowl, on the table; successive diners helping themselves.
- The mayonnaise is made fresh for lunch and again for dinner.
- It’s hot in Spain in summer.
- If you eat by American standards, say dinner at 7pm, you are having a late lunch by Spanish standards…. In other words, you are finishing off the mayo made for a Spanish lunch that has been sitting on the table for 5 hours.
I recently read that mayonnaise is not as risky as we have been led to believe.
So which is it? Fatal killer or misunderstood condiment?
Both, it turns out.
Commercial mayonnaise is made with pasteurized eggs with lots and lots of bacteria-killing acids like lemon juice and vinegar. It actually makes your salads safer than they would be without the mayo.
Home-made mayonnaise should be handled with more care as the acid levels aren’t as high and the eggs are normally not pasteurized.
But I’m not talking about mayonnaise or eggs here….
I’m talking about allioli, or the Catalan version of aioli which is not ‘garlic mayonnaise’ and is made without eggs.
It’s heavy on the garlic, and very hot.
Garlic packs a lot of heat when crushed with mortar and pestle.
You can cut it with commercial mayonnaise if you like. This makes about 4 tbs of allioli. It can’t be made ahead as it tends to ‘break’ upon sitting – still good, but it has to be pounded back together
Time: 15 minutes
- 4 large cloves of good garlic
- 1/4 tsp sea, kosher or other coarse salt
- 2 – 3 tbs good olive oil
- Info: You have to do this with a mortar and pestle. The garlic has to be mashed. A blender or food processor will not work – you’ll get a bland garlic mayonnaise. The pounding pulverizes the cells, releasing allicin which gives it the sharp, hot flavor.
- Method: Smack the garlic once with side of a knife to start breaking it down then put it in the mortar along with the salt. The texture of the salt is needed to help break down the garlic. Pound with the pestle until you get a paste. Yes, this will take awhile. (It took 10 – 15 total minutes for me to make this.) When you have a thick paste add the olive oil a few drops at a time and work into the garlic. Once the drops are incorporated, add a few more. Continue adding oil until it becomes difficult to incorporate then stop. If you add too much the sauce will break – the oil will separate from the garlic. This should look like a very thick mayonnaise.
Grilled Potatoes with Allioli
Total time: 35 minutes
- 2 medium potatoes, cut into large chunks
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 – 2 tbs Allioli
- Put oil, paprika and thyme into a large bowl and mix well.
- Add potatoes and toss, coating thoroughly.
- Put them into an old metal pie plate or foil barbecue container. Cook on barbecue (grill) for 25 – 30 minutes or until done. Stir them occasionally as they tend to develop ‘hot spots’ and can get a little crispy.
- When done remove potatoes and place on a paper towel briefly to remove the excess oil.
- Toss potatoes with 1 – 2 tbs allioli and serve.
Back to the eggs.
Are they really just salmonella-laden time bombs waiting to go off at first taste?
I thought this would be a simple question to answer.
What I discovered is that there are rather a lot of sources giving different opinions but all proclaiming to be right.
Opposite statements are rarely both true.
Opposite opinions even less often.
The following is what I think is true about eggs:
Many parts of the world do not refrigerate eggs. The eggs are not washed prior to sale. There is a protective coating naturally on eggs to keep out harmful bacteria and to help preserve the egg. If this coating is not washed off refrigeration is not required.
In the US eggs are washed prior to sale and they should be refrigerated.
The following is what I think about the rest of the hype:
- Salmonella can be present both on the surface of the shell and internally.
As to the bacteria on the shell: If there is chicken shit on your egg – wash it before you crack it.
If you buy your eggs from organic farmers and / or farmers that humanely keep their chickens there is a significantly reduced risk of the eggs containing salmonella internally as there is less chance that the chickens will be infected.
2. No one should eat raw or undercooked eggs.
The same part of the world that doesn’t refrigerate their eggs also eats them raw. It’s been like that for years and no one seems particularly worried about it.
I certainly understand why people in certain higher-risk groups would want to avoid raw eggs.
But according to one US site the risk of a contaminated egg is 1 in 20,000.
I’m happy with my eggs.
If you’re worried about yours, try to buy them at the farmer’s market – and ask the farmer if they wash the eggs before sale and how he or she keeps their chickens.
Humane is best: nice for the chickens; good for the eggs.
Try the allioli – without eggs.
On another note…. Today is The Glorious Twelfth!