Some things aren't worth the time and effort to make homemade, but some things most definitely are, and one of those things is homemade mayonnaise. If you master this technique, you can use it as a base for making amazing aioli, Caesar salads, and so much more. Mayonnaise is one of the five basic French "mother sauces," basic sauces that are the start of so many other wonderful things. And once you've tasted homemade mayonnaise, you'll have a tough time going back to those commercially produced varieties packed with so many preservatives.
My dad makes an incredible Caesar salad dressing sometimes, completely by hand, and I used to love watching him whisk the drops of oil into an emulsion, drop by drop, slowly creating an amazingly creamy and tangy dressing for the best damn salad you've ever had in your life. It was a show and a meal, all in one. But despite having watched my father perform this culinary alchemy many times in my youth, I'd never tried making homemade mayonnaise myself until I wanted to make a truly exceptional lime aioli for a fish sandwich. The recipe made more than I needed, and now I'm completely hooked on the stuff. I don't use mayonnaise very frequently, so when I do, I'm going to want the good stuff, now that I've experienced it!
Homemade Mayonnaise Recipe Ingredients:
- 1 whole egg
- 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 1/3 cups vegetable oil (I used extra virgin olive oil)
- 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
Begin by whisking together the egg and the mustard. When those first two ingredients are completely mixed together, it's time to start adding the oil. SLOWLY. Like, a few drops at a time slowly. Add a wee bit of oil, and whisk it all together. Add a smidge more, whisk whisk whisk. Continue until all the oil is incorporated, and you'll have something that has magically turned into a mixture that looks like mayonnaise. Once all of the oil has been incorporated in the emulsion, stir in the lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Voila, you've made mayonnaise!
WARNING: If you add the oil too quickly, you'll break the emulsion, and you'll end up with a separated, oily, disgusting, thin, runny mess. I also learned the hard way that if you try to make mayonnaise in a blender, even if you're absolutely perfect about adding the oil slowly, you're pretty much doomed to having the emulsion break.
Fortunately for you, my dear readers, this also lead me to do some research and learn from the fabulous Julia Child a way to rescue a broken mayonnaise emulsion. Should your mayonnaise break, take out a new bowl. In the new bowl, whisk together an egg and a Tablespoon of mustard. Start adding your broken mayonnaise to the new emulsion (going more slowly this time!), and whisk it in, bit by bit, being very careful not to break the emulsion again.
If you're patient, you'll be rewarded with the most delightfully creamy, flavorful mayonnaise you've ever tasted. It's amazing on sandwiches, of course, but I couldn't resist using it as a dip for the first of the season's artichokes from our garden. Now that tastes like spring!