Mayonnaise is a foodstuff that we take completely for granted.
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.
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.
And 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. Finally, blend in a tablespoon or two of something acidic, typically vinegar or lemon juice, plus salt and pepper to taste.
And there you have it—homemade mayonnaise.
Since I’ve been semi-obsessed with Meyer lemons lately, I’ve been making lots of Meyer lemon mayonnaise (here’s the recipe). It’s amazing on top of 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. I promise.
Your reward will be one of those things that can only be explained as kitchen magic. A few familiar ingredients are transformed into something entirely else—a creamy, delicious dollop.
Interested in more simple sauces? Join me for Let’s Get Saucy, a hands-on cooking glass at Ramekins in Sonoma, on April 4. The menu includes Provolone Toasts with Chimichurri; Rosemary Salmon Skewers with Meyer Lemon Aioli; Sauteed Chicken with Parsnip, Apple, and Sherry Pan Sauce; Grilled New York Steak with Martini Butter; and Rosemary-Infused Strawberries Jubilee.