Mojo de Ajo

A few months ago, I watched a program called “Mexico–One Plate At a Time”, by chef Rick Bayless.  This particular episode was called “Liquid Gold,” and he and his daughter were exploring something wonderful called “Mojo de Ajo” (Garlic Sauce, but doesn’t it sound so much more fabulous in Spanish?)  I jotted some notes on the method, and immediately headed downstairs to make my own, because it looked so useful and yummy.

Mojo de Ajo is a staple item you store in your fridge for up to 3 months, and use as the oil for sautéeing things, for searing meat, as the base for other sauces, or even (as we discovered tonight) as the sauce on a pizza.  This “liquid gold” is easy to make, and is worth its weight in culinary gold.

Mojo de Ajo

  • 5 whole heads of garlic
  • 2 c. good olive oil
  • 1 TBSP salt
  • 1 guajillo pepper, chopped, or 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • The juice of 2-3 limes

Start by pulling apart the garlic heads and peeling the skins off each clove.  (Don’t know how to do this?  It’s fun!  Put the flat of your chef’s knife on the clove, smack the blade with the heel of your hand, and the garlic skin comes right off.)  When you have all the cloves peeled, spread them in the bottom of a 9×9 baking dish or Dutch oven.  Pour the olive oil over the garlic.  Sprinkle the salt and chili flakes/guajillo pieces and give it a swirl.  Bake at 325ºF for 40-50 minutes, until the garlic has browned and is quite soft.  (Warning:  If you have any garlic-lovers in the vicinity, you’ll have to forcibly restrain them because of the garlicky aroma wafting through the house.)

Remove from the oven, add the lime juice, and use a potato masher to mash the garlic well.  Give the whole mixture a stir, and put it back in the oven for 30 minutes or so.  When it comes out, let it cool for a bit, then put it into a nice sealable jar (do NOT strain out the chunks!), and store it in the fridge. When you want to use it, you can let it come to room temperature (because the oil solidifies in the fridge) or just use scoops of the solid oil, which melt once they start to heat up in the pan.

Here’re some of the ways we’ve used Mojo de Ajo:

  • Sautéeing fresh vegetables
  • Adding onions and dried fruit to make a fabulous dressing for tilapia
  • Bread dipping
  • Using instead of plain oil for the garlic and onions starter for any meal (I know, there’s already garlic in the Mojo, but I do not recognize the term “too much” when it comes to garlic!)
  • Spread over a par-baked pizza crust, and topped lightly with shredded Parmesan–this is eyes-roll-back-in-your-head fabulous!  I’ll post it separately as an appetizer, because it’s glorious.
  • Browning a pot roast in it before transferring to a crock-pot
  • Starting a soup with Mojo and onions
  • Using a little to fry up leftover turkey to add to enchilada casserole
  • Add a little vinegar and a few dried herbs to make a faboo vinaigrette!

If you had a jar of Mojo de Ajo in your fridge, I bet you’d come up with some more ideas of your own!

Laura

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  2. I made a double batch of this wonderful sauce and my first jar (a full pint) is nearly gone… and I was on vacation for a week.

    So far I have used this on sauteed vegetables, oven roasted potatoes, and in my Italian dressing recipe. I may have to make this to give away as a gift.

    The flavor is nice and rounded because of the citrus in the lime. The red pepper flakes give the sauce a bite, but don’t make it hot at all. My 3 year old can eat it without a problem.

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  4. I made a half batch of this (I was almost out of olive oil), and it was incredibly easy to make. I traditionally make refried beans using lard or bacon fat, but this is even better, not to mention healthier. I also throw some in the pan at the last minute when making fried potatoes (too soon and the garlic burns), give everything a quick toss, and then serve them in warm flour tortillas. Delicious!

    Definitely need to make a bigger batch next time.

  5. It may not make a difference, but, Rick Bayless’ recipe called for mashing the garlic AFTER the second baking and not BEFORE as you have done.
    Just Sayin’.

  6. I’m making my 3rd batch tonight. I made a batch for my Mom & Sister on Mother’s Day as they are both Garlic Fans. I throw a bit of this in almost everything. Oh Yummy!!!!

  7. Correction, a batch of this recipe makes a quart, not a pint. I mis-typed before. Making this again tonight!

    • Hi Noemi, from some quick googling, it looks to me like mojo criollo has orange juice in addition to the lime juice. Some of the recipes for it also include onions and oregano. I haven’t made it but it looks yummy and is now on my list to try! Thanks for bringing this to our attention!

    • Yes, c. = cup(s).
      And in case you wonder later,
      T. = Tablespoon
      t. = teaspoon
      #= pounds
      oz. = ounces
      lbs. = pounds
      qt. = quart
      pt. = pint
      gal. = gallon

  8. Okay, this is now a staple in my kitchen. I’m on my fourth batch, and I’ve given some away to a half dozen friends. Barb, you consummate-gourmet-pizza-maker, we used this to saute multi-colored strips of peppers that became a spectacular stand-alone pizza topping. Certainly no compromise for the vegetarian guest. Rather, everyone was licking the remaining oil from their fingers . . . and then the pan. I’m now experimenting with other infused oils, like annato oil. Still, this is my favorite thus far for its incredible flavor and versatility.

    • Aw, thanks, Lori. We DO love our pizza! This sauce, which actually originally came from my sister, Laura, is just fabulous. It fits perfectly into our family philosophy on garlic….you can never have too much of it.
      Barb