2.4.10 Condimental: Whip It

Mayo 790 xxx
photo by george billard
Yet another reason why I want you to own a mortar and pestle: It's so much fun to make your own garlicky mayonnaise. The one above is flecked with saffron, but you can have fun creating exactly the flavors you like—lemony, salty, herbal, garlicky... Hellmann's certainly has its place but there's nothing like the wonderful, satiny texture and rich taste of real homemade.

What to do with it once you've got a cup of the glorious stuff? Make it the dipping sauce for a beautiful platter of fresh and lightly blanched seasonal vegetables. Stir it into boiled or roasted and chopped new potatoes. Dip your steamed artichoke leaves into it. Add chopped pickles, capers, parsley and a pinch of cayenne for a delicious adult tartar sauce. Pound some watercress or basil with it to make a green mayonnaise, great with cold roasted chicken or fish. Add mustard or horseradish and some pan juices and serve with a roast beef. Stir in a little anchovy paste and serve with cold roast veal. Add half a teaspoon of ground cumin and slather on your lamb burger. Beginning to get the idea? You don't really need a mortar and pestle to make this—it's great for pounding the garlic, but not everyone wants their mayonnaise garlicky, and a bowl and whisk or fork also work fine.
Mayonnaise 790 xxx
drizzle slooooooowly!
The most important thing to remember when making your own mayonnaise, is to START SLOWLY when you're drizzling in the oil. If you don't do that, it will never come together and you will be frustrated. Other than that, it's really easy. A good rule of thumb to remember, if you want to make more than the 1 cup in this recipe, is 1 egg yolk per cup of oil. Using all olive oil can result in a very intense flavor (especially if your oil is not too mellow), so I generally use part olive oil and part some other more neutral oil, like raw sesame or sunflower. You can experiment and see what you like. You could even go nuts and use walnut or almond oil.

If it "breaks" and looks like a curdled mess, or never gets thick, remember that emulsifying is a delicate operation and don't despair. You can remedy this by taking a fresh egg yolk and slowly beating your broken mayonnaise into the yolk. The fresh yolk will help to re-emulsify the sauce and hopefully restore your faith.

Mayonnaise (DIY)

makes about 1 cup
  • — 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • — 1/2 clove garlic, optional
  • — 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • — 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • — 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • — 1/2 cup best quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • — 1/2 cup neutral oil, like grapeseed or sunflower

If using garlic, pound it with the salt in a mortar and pestle to form a smooth paste. Place yolk, salt, lemon juice, mustard and garlic, if using, in a small mixing bowl. Stir to combine. Combine the oils in a cup with a spout or a small pitcher and dribble a couple of drops (literally) into the mixture as you beat with a whisk or fork. Keep going, a few drops at a time, until you see the yolk begin to absorb the oil and thicken slightly.

The mixture will also lighten as you proceed. As it comes together, you can slowly increase the stream of oil, whisking all along. If, after incorporating all the oil, you find that it's thicker than you like, simply whisk in a little warm water.

Taste and add more salt or lemon as needed. Serve immediately or transfer to a jar and store in the fridge.

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