Mayonnaise – The Real Thing


Or – How to get some exercise.

This is the second great classic sauce that every cook should be able to hammer out with little or no effort. I’ve already covered Hollandaise (see Eggs Benedict), so this bit on mayonnaise completes the Allemande (emulsion of lemon and egg yolk) class of the mother sauces of Escoffier. One of these days I’ll gather them all together in one place.

There are all kinds of stories about how mayonnaise came about and was named. I suspect that anywhere quality oil and eggs were available someone figured out how to emulsify the oil into the egg yolk. The name seems to be French in origin.

For those who are used to modern mayo from the jar this stuff is a bit of a shock. It actually has real flavor – and lots of it. It is also about 10 minutes of work – guaranteed to work your arm and give you a bit of cardio-vascular workout.

3 egg yolks
1 Tbs acid: wine vinegar or lemon juice
½ tsp Salt
¼ tsp dry mustard – up to ½ tsp by taste for French style (optional)
2 cups corn or safflower oil or NON-Virgin olive oil
2 Tbs boiling water

Make sure the mixing bowl is big enough for lots of elbow action. Also make sure the whisk is comfortable to use.

You want ingredients room temperature: 70°F or so. So don’t take stuff right out of the refrigerator and expect good results. If the eggs are cold you may heat up the mixing bowl with lots of hot water – just not hot enough to cook the yolks. It also helps to separate the yolks by hand, which will help warm them up. If your oil is cold, warm it up – but then, why should your oil be cold?

Whisk the egg yolks for a few seconds until they start to thicken a bit.

Add the acid – whether lemon juice or wine vinegar – and salt. Bit of discussion here: adding mustard is French, most others don’t. The mustard not only adds flavor but also helps to stabilize the mixture – your choice. Anyway – continue whisking while you add this stuff and beat for about another 30 seconds to a minute.

Take a deep breath. Shake your arms and get some blood into them. Relax. From here you cannot stop whisking for the next 5 to 8 minutes or so.

You do not have to whisk particularly fast – just steady – without stopping. You can switch hands or change directions – just don’t stop. Use a teaspoon and dribble the oil in a drop at a time while whisking steadily. When about half of the oil is in you can take a deep breath and take a SHORT pause. Then start adding from the measuring cup, about a teaspoonful at a time – whisking steadily. If at any time you see the mix looking oily stop adding oil and continue whisking until all has been absorbed. Usually it works out that about every 2 or 3 teaspoons of oil you will need to stir for a few extra seconds to get proper absorption. At no time let the mix get oily and loose.

When you get about ½ the oil worked in the danger of failure is pretty much over.

If you don’t get enough volume before the mix stiffens up too much to add more, then you can dribble in a few more drops of the acid, then go back to adding oil.

Add the boiling water, which will help the final consistency. Correct the seasoning to taste.

You can decant into a sealable container and store in the refrigerator for a few days. This is NOT commercial stuff with all the preservatives, etc. Therefore don’t think that you can ignore it in the fridge for more than a very few days.

Yes – you can make this in a blender on the lowest speed. Yes – you can use olive oil but it must NOT be extra virgin. Olive oil works and tastes very nice, but corn oil is a whole bunch easier to work with and tastes very, very good.

{{HERSELF SEZ: There is nothing – absolutely nothing – like homemade mayonnaise! This version is similar to other versions of homemade mayo that I’ve had or made – it’s a little “runnier” than the commercial kind. Doesn’t seem to be anything to do with this recipe to make it a thicker consistency. But I can easily get used to a runnier mayo for the taste!! Yum!}}


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