Would you believe me if I told you that mayonnaise is yellow (not white), doesn’t have any cream, and only takes five minutes to make? I wouldn’t have believed it a week ago myself, but I am a convert.
When I was in high school, there was this pizza place that we all went to for the “crazy bread.” It was basically bread sticks, but it was delicious and came with a tub of marinara sauce or ranch dressing. The cool thing was get both and mix them, but after I watched them pour a whole vat of mayonnaise into the ranch dressing, I couldn’t bear to look at it again.
Some people certainly love it but mayonnaise has always just disgusted me. However, faced with few alternatives when serving up some steamed artichokes in a poorly stocked kitchen, I decided to give homemade mayonnaise a try. Armed with Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything and desperately afraid it would fail, I made my mayonnaise with a drop of oil at a time.
I won’t lie to you, homemade mayonnaise can and does break on occasion. I just broke the emulsion on a batch this afternoon because I got a little arrogant and added too much oil at the beginning. Once you realize how easy and tasty homemade mayonnaise is at home and want to make it all the time, try to avoid my mistake.
The key is really to start out slow. Literally a few drops at a time. And make sure that the oil has been blended completely before adding any more. After even the second or third oil addition, the mayonnaise will start to take on a thick texture you might associate with custard, like the inside of a creme brulee.
Once you have about a half cup of mayonnaise, you can start adding much more oil at a time and the emulsion won’t break. Just make sure that you stir the oil in slowly first before whisking at whole speed, or you will get oil and/or egg on yourself. I tend to get too excited about whisking and do this a lot.
I have had great success making this in a tall water glass with a fork, instead of a whisk with a bowl. If you are not the best whisker or are a little tenuous about trying this out, I suggest you give it a shot. It is magically easy.
Once you have the basics down, start playing around. A typical Belgian fry shop (yes, French fries are from Belgium, and they are served with mayonnaise) has ten or twenty different kinds of mayonnaise with their frites! Here is a great list of other items you can add for different mayonnaise variations.
Enjoy! And please let me know if you have any questions.
Prep time: 5-10 minutes (depending on your mayonnaise-making proficiency)
Serves: 6-8 (with veggies as an appetizer)
Adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
- two eggs
- stone ground mustard
- one and a half cups corn or canola oil
- balsamic vinegar
- freshly ground pepper
Note: The original Bittman recipe calls for dijon mustard in the beginning and lemon juice, sherry vinegar, or white wine vinegar at the end. After my first attempt at make-do-with-what-you-have mayonnaise, I have tried following the original recipe more faithfully, but this version is really much tastier.
- Combine the egg yolks with one tablespoon of mayonnaise and stir to combine thoroughly.
- If you don’t have a spout attached to your oil dispenser, pour the amount of oil you will need into a measuring cup with a spout.
- Add a tiny amount of oil, say five or six drops, and stir to combine. Repeat with this amount of oil for two to three minutes.
- Once you have about a half to three quarters of a cup of mayonnaise, begin adding the oil in larger doses (1-2 tablespoons at a time). Repeat until you have finished all of the oil, making sure to stir the oil in completely before adding anymore.
- Add one half teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.
- Refrigerate the mayonnaise until it is needed.
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