Foodie Friday: Rick Bayless’ Mojo de Ajo (Garlic Oil)

Foodie Friday: Rick Bayless’ Mojo de Ajo (Garlic Oil)

I’ve mentioned before that my family this year has a plot in a local community garden.

We’ve been absolutely loving it, both as a fun activity to do as a family and because it has been amazingly productive in getting some great, fresh produce into our hands and bellies. Most, we have grown ourselves, but our garden is also home to a wonderful test garden, where some incredible varieties of heritage crops are grown.

This week we happened to make our weekly family trip to the garden on the same day when the test garden crew were harvesting literal carloads of the most beautiful garlic you’ve ever seen. The aroma was incredible. We were offered a few heads… then a few more… and then some more… and by the time we left we had a mountainous treasure I couldn’t wait to get home and start using.

My first thought: I am making a huge batch of Mojo de Ajo!

A few years ago, a chef I had (I am ashamed to say) not heard of until that time was on the first season Bravo’s Top Chef Masters. His name is Rick Bayless, and he specializes in Mexican cuisine. It was very interesting to see a Mexican chef compete at such a high level with experts in French and Italian cooking, which are probably more traditionally considered “great cuisine.” I won’t belabor the point, but basically, as the season went on he became a favorite of my wife and I, and we were very happy to see him win. If you are every on a layover in Chicago, do yourself a favor and eat at his restaurant Tortas Frontera at O’Hare Airport.

Anyhow, we tracked down his PBS series Mexico: One Plate at a Time, and one particular episode focused on what is called mojo de ajo, which (I’m told) translates roughly to “garlic gravy.”

This stuff is amazing. I’ve had garlic oil before, and it’s amazing by nature, but the addition of the lime somehow just puts this over the top. It’s Liquid Culinary Gold, that can be used for… well, everything. Use it as a marinade. Slather it over some fish. Toss it in some pasta. Eat it with a spoon. Use your imagination, and go nuts!

NOTE: I make this without any spice, because I have two small children, but if you’d like you can definitely add some chipotle peppers as well, or even just a pinch of chili flakes to give it a little bit of heat.

Rick Bayless’ Mojo de Ajo (Garlic Oil)


  • 10 oz whole garlic cloves (this equals approx. 1 1/2 cups, or about 4 heads. No need to be precise.)
  • 2 to 3 cups olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice


  1. Preheat your oven to 325˚.
  2. Prepare garlic, by breaking apart the cloves and smashing them to remove the thin, papery skin on the outside. If using pre-peeled garlic, you should still smash them up a bit, just to get things going.
  3. Put garlic, oil, and salt into a baking dish (I like an 8″x8″ Pyrex dish) and stir together, then put into the preheated oven.
  4. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until the garlic is lightly brown and soft.
  5. Add the lime juice (carefully!) and return to the oven for another 20 minutes until the garlic is golden brown.
  6. Mash up the garlic with a potato masher or fork.
  7. Store in a wide-mouth jar in the refrigerator, until it is gone in 2 days because you use it in everything.

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