In this post, I’m going to try to convince you to make homemade mayonnaise.
Why? Because a) it’s about a zillion times better than store bought (ten zillion if you make Meyer Lemon Mayonnaise), and b) making your own is kind of like making magic.
But let’s start by simply considering the stuff. Mayonnaise, I assert, is a thing we don’t pay much attention to. We spoon it out of a jar and spread it onto sandwiches, stir it into slaws and salad dressings, and whisk it into dips, never really thinking much about it.
But if you did, you’d notice that, for the most part, store bought mayonnaise is a texture. It’s thick, slick, and, well, fatty. More than adding any discernible taste, it adds body and mouthfeel to foods.
All fine and good.
Homemade mayonnaise, however, is an entirely different animal. More than a mere condiment, it’s a versatile sauce—one with all the thick, creamy attributes of the jarred stuff, but with real flavor, a delicious balance of sweetness and piquancy. If you compared homemade and store bought side-by-side, you’d be amazed at how much more homemade brings to the party.
I’ve taught many cooking classes where students did just that and they were indeed amazed.
Perhaps even more amazing, homemade mayonnaise takes about five minutes.
For a basic recipe, start with one egg yolk, a teaspoon of mustard, and a pinch of salt. Whisk this trio together, then slowly—pretty much drop by drop—add a cup of oil, continuing to whisk as you do. Delight at seeing a familiar liquid wondrously become creamy and spreadable. Finally, whisk in a tablespoon or two of something acidic, typically vinegar or lemon juice, plus salt and pepper to taste. (Higher detail, step-by-step instructions, and tips here.)
And there you have it—ta da!—homemade mayonnaise.
A friend gave me a bunch of Meyer lemons recently, so I’ve been making lots of Meyer Lemon Mayonnaise. It’s killer with fish. I also love it as a dipping sauce for oven fries. And spooned on top of a grain salad. And mixed into hard-cooked eggs.
Best. Egg. Salad. Ever.
Yes, the whisking can get pretty tiring. But it’s only for a little bit, and you’ll live.
Your reward will be one of those things that can only be explained as kitchen alchemy. A few familiar ingredients are transformed into something entirely else—a creamy, delicious dollop.