Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hold the Mayo

Or not. Depends upon what you are slathering it upon. Corned beef or pastrami sandwiches on rye … well not so much, unless you are my mother. Take her into any good deli and she will inevitably order corned beef on white bread with lettuce, tomatoes and mayonnaise. You can only imagine the horrified look on my New York born-and-bred husband’s face when she does that. Really, Mom?

That aside, there’s a lot you can do with a good dollop of homemade mayonnaise. Stir it up with some chopped fresh herbs and scallions, thin it with a little lemon juice and serve it up with a nice piece of grilled fish. Combine it with a healthy dose of horseradish (preferably the homemade variety) and maybe a little sour cream and give your steak a big wallop of flavor. Add some garlic and turn it into an aioli for shrimp or grilled vegetables. Do something similar with a hit of pesto.  Or, have yourself a retro little salad by blending mayonnaise and ketchup into a thousand island dressing, then spooning it over a big wedge of chilled iceberg lettuce.

What would a BLT be without mayo? Dry and boring, that’s what. Potato salad? Deviled eggs? Pimiento cheese? I'll stop ranting now.

So without further ado, here is a recipe for mayonnaise. Try it just once and you’ll never go back to those processed versions (sorry, Hellman’s). Like most of what I post here, it’s ridiculously easy and it will live for several weeks in your fridge, giving you lots of time to experiment. Oh, and just think how impressed your friends and family will be!

MAYONNAISE  (adapted from Scott Peacock's "The Gift of Southern Cooking"

1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 egg yolks (I use extra-large)
1 1/2 cups peanut or canola oil
1 tablespoon hot water

Place the vinegar, lemon juice, sea salt and mustard into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Blend briefly until dissolved, then add egg yolks and whisk until smooth.  While mixer is running, add the oil drop by drop at first, then in a slow stream until all of it has been incorporated and the mixture is emulsified.  Beat in the hot water until mayonnaise is smooth and creamy.

Store in the refrigerator in a tightly covered container.

Yield:  about 1 1/2 cups

*  I always make this in my electric mixer, but you can do it in a food processor instead.  You can also make it by hand with a big bowl and a balloon whisk which means you won't need to do any weight-lifting at the gym that day.

*  I know I post a lot of Scott Peacock’s recipes here, but there’s a reason for that and it's because they are trustworthy. I’ve used them in both a restaurant kitchen (Watershed) and my own home kitchen for years and I can vouch for that. I would tinker with them, but instead I will stand by that old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

*   I also know some of you are going to look at this recipe and say “Oh no, this calls for raw eggs and I can’t go there.” That’s your choice, and I certainly respect that. I’ve made the choice to use organic, free-range eggs for my mayonnaise and have never had an issue. Farm fresh eggs are even better. It goes without saying that if you know where your eggs come from, the lesser the chances of contamination.   As you know from earlier posts, I think it's well worth the trouble and expense to seek out farm fresh eggs.

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