Mayonnaise: Not Just from a Jar Anymore

As crazy unhealthy as it is, mayonnaise may be my favorite condiment. Not ketchup. Not mustard. Not Sriracha. Not BBQ. Not even soy sauce. Mayo. It just adds an extra layer of velvety richness to so many things – sandwiches, burgers, salad dressings, and even french fries. Just writing about it makes me want an order of hot, crispy fries with some flavored mayo to dip them in. Yum.

When Bryce and I had some friends over for burger night recently, I wanted to offer mayonnaise alongside the requisite ketchup and mustard. I opened the refrigerator and instantly became bored with the options staring at me from the shelves of the door. Miracle Whip is all right in a pinch, but let’s face the facts – it is NOT mayo. Save the Miracle Whip for tuna pasta salad. And the brand name real mayos? Blech. Because everything else was already prepared or prepackaged for the evening’s meal – down to the pattied burgers – I suddenly felt the urge to whip something up from scratch. I did’t know if I could live with myself if we hosted a dinner party, even such a low-key one, without some sort of homemade element. The lackluster inventory of available mayos combined with my desire to create something culinarily and led me to google recipes for made-from-scratch mayonnaise.

The top-rated return from my query was a recipe from Food Network’s Alton Brown. I clicked the link, read the recipe, and thought it seemed simple enough to execute, provided I had all of the ingredients – an egg yolk, fine salt, ground mustard, sugar, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, white wine vinegar, and oil. A quick perusal of the pantry and uninspiring fridge confirmed that I could, in fact, try my hand at Mr. Brown’s mayo recipe. After collecting the required ingredients, I set to work at creating mayo-ey goodness from scratch following the directions carefully. Although I have become more comfortable with egg-based sauces and custards over the past year (see my multiple ice cream recipes), they still cause a little hesitation, and it was my first attempt at making mayo – I didn’t want to screw things up. I need not have worried. Alton Brown’s recipe proved simple and straightforward. In roughly five minutes from start to finish, I had produced just over a cup of freshly made mayonnaise. I will definitely be making mayo again, and I recommend you give it a try as well. I may never buy a jar of mayonnaise again.

What made the homemade condiment even better? I split the batch into three smaller portions and flavored each one differently. In one, I sprinkled chili powder, cayenne pepper, and smoked paprika to transform the basic mayo into a spicy spread. I did not measure the amount of seasonings I added, I just stirred them in, tasted the mixture, and added more until I was happy with the taste. To the second portion, I mixed in a little kosher salt and fresh-cracked pepper. To borrow a phrase from the venerable Ina Garten, how bad could that be? For the third and final offering, I roasted a few cloves of garlic in an aluminum foil satchel drizzled with olive oil and a dash of kosher salt before mixing them with the mayo. I also pushed one clove of fresh garlic through a press and stirred that in with the roasted garlic for a delicious, garlicky mayo (picture below). All three sauces provided that extra something I was looking for to add a special touch to the evening. Winner, winner, burger-night dinner!

A couple notes on the recipe itself. Alton Brown calls for safflower or corn oil, but I used what I had on hand – soybean oil. The next time I hit up the grocery store, I think I’ll pick up some safflower or corn oil to try that because the soybean oil left that distinct vegetable oil flavor. Don’t get me wrong, the flavor isn’t bad – especially when masked by the addition of other seasonings and flavors – it’s just noticeable. The other thing of note is whisking – what a workout! Perhaps I should have done some stretching before hand. I’m sure you could use an electric mixer, but all said and done, I enjoyed the process of whisking together the emulsified concoction by hand.

A dish of homemade garlic mayo.

CJC

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