The easy way to get mayonnaise is to open the jar. The better way is to make it yourself.
Why bother? Taste, quality, texture, and just that wonderful satisfaction that you’ve done everything, yes everything, yourself.
Jar mayo can be good, but the store-bought versions come with limitations. The flavor is often muted, just subtlety descending into blandness. And that texture may be wonderfully uniform, but it is not really creamy. It’s too viscous, and if you look at the list of ingredients on the side of your jar you’ll begin to understand why.
Homemade mayo can be prepared with a whisk or a blender. Go with the whisk. There is a great blender recipe in The Joy of Cooking — I know because I tested and refined it. But many other blender recipes fail — I know because Brian and I just had a kitchen misfortune with one we were faithfully following as part of a recipe test.
No, save the electricity and pick up your whisk. This recipe, from Sauces by Michel Roux, is quite simple and totally delicious. And you control the flavor. You can add more vinegar or lemon juice or mustard to achieve a deeper flavor. If you try to do that with store-bought mayo, all you get is a modified emulsion with your additions suspended in that white mayo mass. The time to integrate flavor is at the time of creation.
This recipe takes you less than 10 minutes. That’s less time than it takes to get in the car, drive to Wal-Mart and stock up with stuff from China.
In terms of variation, this recipe originally called for peanut oil, but I like the flavors of my favorite olive oil. Different oil, olive and otherwise, will give you great variety here. Similarly, you can experiment beyond simple white vinegar to generate a variety of distinctive notes.
And, of course, there are always the variations to convert even this delicious simple mayonnaise into other wonders:
- Curry Mayonnaise: dissolve 1 tablespoon of curry powder in the vinegar or lemon juice
- Remoulade Sauce: mince 2 cornichons plus 1 tablespoon capers and 1 anchovy fillet and fold into the mayonnaise with 1 teaspoon of Dijon and 3 tablespoons of chopped herbs [parsley, chervil, and tarragon]
Yield: 1 ¼ cups
- 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon strong Dijon mustard
- 1 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or lemon juice.
Stand a mixing bowl on a dish towel on the counter. Put the egg yolks, mustard and little salt and pepper into the bowl and mix with a balloon whisk.
Slowly add the oil in a very thin stream to begin with, whisking continuously. [You may want two people here: one to hold the bowl and whisk and the other to maintain a very steady pour of oil].
As the mayonnaise begins to thicken, add the oil in a steady stream, still whisking all the time.
When the oil is completely incorporated, whisk more rapidly for 30 seconds until he mayonnaise is thick and glossy. Add the vinegar or lemon juice, taste, and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
Source: Sauces, Revised and Updated Edition by Michel Roux