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
This post has a happy ending.
I’m going through a cookbook, a new cookbook, looking for a great recipe. A healthy recipe. It’s not immediately easy:
- First sauce recipe, page 54, béchamel: butter and milk.
- Page 60, mornay sauce: butter and milk and now cream and cheese.
- Page 94, hollandaise sauce: lots of eggs and lots and lots of butter
- Page 98, béarnaise sauce: still lots of eggs and just slightly less butter.
And on it goes. It’s a fact of life: sauces taste good but they have impact on human lifespan. Well, no, actually, because this book goes beyond eggs and butter and cheese. All the classic sauces are here, as they must be, in Sauces, the Revised and Updated Edition, by Michel Roux. In 1996 the first edition of Sauces appeared, complete with excellent photos, wonderful recipes, and instructions and insight that have benefited a generation of cooks. But this new version of Sauces gives you paths rich in flavor but also rewardingly healthy.
The new edition is a complete rewrite. All the classics are here: béchamel, mornay, hollandaise, béarnaise … But there are 20% more recipes, all new photos, refined recipes, and brilliantly laid out step by step instructions. In the past year, I’ve posted recipe ideas from Eggs and Pastry, two wonderful books by Roux. This new version of Sauces follows the format of Eggs and Pastry, a format designed to be friendly, enticing and, of course, successful.
This revised version reflects the trends and expansion of our culinary world. New chapters are devoted to infusions and salsas. A separate chapter is now devoted to chocolate [and other rich creamy sauces]. Yes, it appears that chocolate is not a fad after all!
Sauce cookbooks are a staple for any serious cook and we are fortunate to have several serious tomes available to us. This book by Roux is the best general fit of any current sauce guide: it has the perfect combination of ideas, illustrations, and instructions. This book does not intimidate but it does inspire. And, when you combine Sauces with Eggs and Pastry, you have the foundation for a lifetime of culinary exploration.
Best of all, this edition of Sauces has some new gems that are just unexpected treasures. This recipe, Arugula Sauce with Horseradish, is one of them. Suzen and I call this our Universal Green Sauce. It’s incredibly fresh with a bite from all that arugula whisked with yogurt. A hint of wasabi powder and some lemon juice just accelerate the sparkle on your tongue.
I had some leftover ham and found this to be the perfect accompaniment. Roux says it is perfect for cold meat, for poached salmon or for smoked trout. I’ll go further. Use this as a substitute for mayo or mustard on your burger. Use it for crudités or for artichokes. The distinctive arugula flavor will convert any old friend into a bright new dish.
Arugula Sauce with Horseradish
Yield: 2 cups to serve 8 people
- 2 ounces arugula leaves, stems removed (about 1 ½ cups)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard or 1 teaspoon wasabi powder
- 2-3 tablespoons finely grated horseradish (preferably fresh) to taste
- 2 tablespoons light olive oil
- 2 tablespoons mil
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 garlic clove, finely crushed
- 2/3 cup strained plain yogurt
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
Place all the ingredients, except the yogurt and seasoning, into a blender and process for 2 to 3 minutes until smooth.
Transfer to a large bowl and whisk in the yogurt until combined. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to use. This sauce keeps will in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days, needing only a quick whisk through before serving.
Source: Sauces, Revised and Updated Edition by Michel Roux