Since Cinco de Mayo is around the corner I was messing around with something to celebrate Mexican cooking. I made fajitas but they didn’t feel authentic and did not get me excited enough to write an article about them. I did happen to be flipping the channels one day and came across a show on PBS hosted by famed Chicago Chef Rick Bayless. He does this show about Mexico and Mexican cooking. This particular show was about something the Mexican’s call Mojo de Ajo. Super simple, super authentic and just in time for Cinco de Mayo.
Mojo de Ajo is simply a garlic infused olive oil. You can (and should) use it to fry proteins in, add to pasta, use as a dipping oil, or toss with steamed vegetables. It is amazing.
It is so simple that I won’t even list the ingredients. Just look at the picture.
Well, you don’t use the entire can of chipotle peppers you use two individual peppers. You don’t use the entire bottle of oil, just enough to cover the garlic in the baking dish.
A few more words about the ingredients: In the show Rick used crushed red pepper and, honestly , this makes the finished Mojo much more versatile but to be more authentic you have to use the chipotle peppers. BTW Chipotle peppers are smoked Jalapeno peppers so they are hot and smoky. You may or may not like the smokiness pairing but it is worth a try if you have never had them.
Peel garlic, arrange cloves in the bottom of a baking dish, add around 2 cups of fruity olive oil and a tsp of salt. Add to a preheated 325 degree oven for 45-55 minutes or until garlic is lightly browned and softened. The temperature is important since you don’t want to get anywhere near the low smoke point of fruity olive oil. Your house is going to smell amazing. Add ½ cup of freshly squeezed lime juice and two chopped chipotle peppers. Do not mix. Return to oven and bake for another 20 minutes until garlic is golden brown. Remove from the oven and use a large fork or masher to thoroughly mash the garlic in the baking dish. Pour the mixture into one or two glass storage containers and refrigerate. If you fridge is cold the oil with get cloudy. That is the nature of olive oil. It gets cloudy when cold but it does not affect the quality.
You could certainly use crushed red pepper instead of the chipotles to make it more versatile. In fact, that is what Rick used when he made it in his own kitchen.
A quick recipe: Camarones al Mojo de Ajo con Chipotle.
- Rice (buttered)
Skim a TBSP of the oil from the Mojo de Ajo into a hot pan. Pan fry shrimp. Add a TBSP of the garlic from the Mojo de Ajo to the pan, stir and warm through. Serve over rice.