With a very active social and professional life, I’ve been a bit busy recently. Yesterday I was called upon to make chicken salad to prepare for a dinner with friends and to create a surplus with which The Wife could make her lunches for the upcoming week. I went all-in on the “from scratch” philosophy and made my own mayonnaise. Instructions for replicating my effort follow the jump.
The method is simple, if tedious. Put two egg yolks (as little albumen as possible) in a stand mixer and beat until stiff. Then, you can add your seasoning, as long as it includes some salt. In my case, it was about a half tablespoon of ground brown mustard seed, some cayenne pepper, some granulated garlic, and a dash of salt. The resulting yolk mixture was a rich golden color. Then, in a separate bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of lemon juice with 1 1/2 tablespoons of vinegar. (You can use a flavored vinegar, like a lemon-infused vinegar suitable for salads, for additional flavor.) From there, get a cup of olive oil. Add it in one-half a teaspoon at a time, with the mixer at or near a high setting. After about halfway through the cup of oil, alternate your oil with the lemon-vinegar mix. When the last bit of oil is in the mix, you’ve got mayonnaise.
The tedium of adding in the oil in such small quantities is necessary, because the oil has to emulsify into the protein-heavy yolk base slowly. If you were really good, or had a device to do it, you could drizzle it in very slowly but constantly. The sauce will be thick until the vinegar-lemon oil mixture gets added in, also, after which time the texture becomes recognizable as mayonnaise. However, it is still going to be thicker than the aerated stuff you would buy at your grocery store.
The recipe from which I took this imagined that the cook would mix the mayonnaise by hand. I say, no way — a stand mixer, with a whisk, at a medium-high speed, is the way to go. Doing this by hand would be enough to induce carpal tunnel syndrome in the healthiest of specimens and I already suffer from CTS so this just wasn’t an option.
Now, the fact of the matter is that you’re probably a fan of the airy, light texture of store-bought mayo. Which is fine; if you like Miracle Whip, then maybe homemade mayonnaise isn’t for you. My experience is that the resulting fresh and creamy mayonnaise was rich and delicious in a way that no store-bought mayo-in-a-jar has ever been. However, it was enough work to deter me from doing this as a matter of course. For me, the effort-to-benefit ratio was at the “occasional” point — enough benefit to keep this trick in my pocket as a special treat, a way to add zing to something like a chicken salad or a super-sandwich every once in a while, but too much work to do it every day.
The chicken salad, by the way, was great. Chunks of juicy, fresh chicken (165 degree water bath for 5 hours, with Prejean’s cajun spice mix and a couple slices of lemon) mixed with roasted pistachios, small chunks of green apples, dried orange-flavored cranberries, and thinly-sliced celery created a wholesome, flavorful chicken salad when mixed with the mildly-mustardy binding of the homemade mayonnaise.