Recently I came across an article in the New York Times by Melissa Clark extolling the virtues of homemade mayonnaise. At the same time I found I had run out of the jarred mayonnaise I commonly use. So today I finally got around to making some mayonnaise; and I did it the old-fashioned way. Mayonnaise is one of the “Mother” sauces of French cuisine. It is a cold emulsion created by incorporating oil into egg yolk and adding the flavorings and seasonings of your choice. The taste and texture is unlike any commercial product you will find, and you can personalize the sauce in a myriad of ways. There are a few tricks to make the process easier, but it is basically just a matter of being patient and careful as you whisk the oil into the egg mixture. Here is a basic recipe:
Homemade Mayonnaise (from Melissa Clark at the New York Times)
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature (use the most impeccably fresh, “clean” eggs you can find)
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon water
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup oil, such as canola
Whisk the egg yolk, lemon juice, mustard, water, and salt together in a medium bowl until frothy and well-blended. Now slowly begin to add the oil, initially by drops, whisking all the while. Take your time: you will need to add a least a quarter of the oil by droplets before the emulsion will begin to thicken. As the mixture thickens, you can add the oil in a fine stream. By the time you have incorporated all the oil, the mixture should be thick enough to mound slightly on a spoon. (If at any time it separates, you can save it by starting again with a clean bowl and another egg yolk. Slowly beat the separated mixture into the egg yolk and it should come together). Once your mayonnaise is done you can adjust the seasoning to your taste and flavor it with garlic, chipotle, sriracha, tapenade, anchovies, fresh herbs; you are only limited by your imagination. Remember that this mayonnaise is perishable; you can’t keep it in the door of the refrigerator for weeks. This recipe will make about 8 ounces and you should use it within a week.
For my egg salad sandwich I chopped 2 large, hard-cooked eggs and added a good dollop of mayonnaise. Into the mixture went a small scallion, white bulb and green top finely chopped, and a pinch of salt and pepper. I piled the mixture onto a slice of multi-grain bread and topped it with a large, crisp leaf of lettuce. Another slice of bread on top and that’s it. A very good lunch, indeed.
**I would be remiss not to mention that any person who has been advised to avoid raw or under-cooked eggs (pregnant women, the immune-compromised, very young children) should not consume homemade mayonnaise.