Presto! Mayo in a Minute
July 31, 2015
How to make fuss-free, foolproof mayonnaise and aioli . . . .
What if I said you could make thick, luscious, fluffy, foolproof homemade mayonnaise in a mere minute? Yep, it’s a miracle.
Miracles of science take place in home kitchens every day. In the case of mayonnaise (and its culinary cousin, aioli), we’re talking about the science of emulsions. But you don’t need a degree in physics or chemistry to make Minute Mayo. You just have to: a) believe in magic, and b) own an immersion blender. Presto! Now you can whip up quick, simple, reasonably small-batch, perfect-every-time mayonnaise.
I got so excited when I learned how to make Minute Mayo. Here’s why I’m a believer:
Count The Ways
I’m not sure who to credit for inventing Minute Mayo. The idea has been passed around on the Internet, and I’m just spreading the word. You can read all about fast, fuss-free homemade mayolis (my all-purpose name for mayos and aiolis) in this definitive guide. Or if you are too hungry to wait, jump straight into these 62 recipes:
Minute Mayo + Minute Aioli (variation)
Man vs. Machine
In the case of man vs. machine, the machine wins when it comes to making mayonnaise or aioli – or mayoli, as I say in short.
First, your basic building blocks:
Sounds simple, right? Sorry, you can’t combine these ingredients haphazardly. That’s a recipe for disappointment because mayonnaise is a finicky emulsion prone to separating into a greasy, curdled mess – a phenomenon known as “breaking.” Oil and water are not attracted to each other. They need an emulsifier to bind them. Think of the emulsifier as the reverend at a shotgun wedding. For mayonnaise, the main emulsifier is lecithin, a protein found in egg yolks. The mustard and garlic are also emulsifiers. (You can read all about the “aise” family of emulsions, including mayonnaise, hollandaise and béarnaise, starting on page 472 in my book 12,157 Kitchen and Cooking Secrets.)
Traditionally, mayoli is made by hand. It’s a tedious gamble. Egg yolks and lemon juice are combined, then the oil must be added slooooooowly, drop by drop, while vigorously whisking and praying the emulsion doesn’t break. Hand-made mayo never turned out thick enough for me, but I am not known for my patience. Unless you are going for the bicep burn, I highly recommend circumventing this traditional route.
I’m not alone. Even Julia Child succumbed to the lure of the machine. She
Food processor mayonnaise is merely the middle step in the evolution of machine mayo. The immersion blender is the millennial mayo machine. An immersion blender is a hand-held blender, sometimes called a stick blender. The concept is simple: Ingredients are added to a tall, narrow beaker. (The oil is light and thus floats on top.) The blender blades combine the yolk and lemon juice (or other acid) and, at the same time, create a vortex that gradually sucks oil onto the blades as you slowly raise the stick.
Tip: For best results, the ingredients should be at room temperature – particularly the egg. You can crack the egg into the beaker and let it acclimatize before adding the remaining ingredients. Never let the egg sit with lemon juice or salt on it – the proteins will “cook.”
Tip: I have a three-speed immersion blender, and the lowest speed works just fine for mayoli.
Tip: Immersion blenders are usually sold with their own beakers. If you don’t have a beaker, try a tall, narrow jar, such as a mason jar.
The Results, In Short:
Avoid Bitter Disappointment
Homemade mayo prepared with extra virgin olive oil can be a bitter disappointment – literally. The oil contains healthful but bitter polyphenol antioxidants, protectively coated with fatty acids. Vigorous whipping – particularly with the blades of a blender or food processor – squeezes out these polyphenols and thus releases the bitterness that our taste buds had not previously detected. (Link: Olive Oil Primer.)
But never say never. If you want olive oil mayoli, start with a portion of neutral, refined oil, such as canola. Once the mayoli is stable, add some wonderful, high-quality, strong-tasting extra virgin olive oil. I use this ratio: 3/4 cup (175 mL) neutral oil and 1/4 cup (60 mL) extra virgin olive oil. The trick is to get it thick enough. (How-to: EVOO Mayoli.)
Mayo vs. Aioli
Is it mayonnaise or aioli? What’s in a name? In this case, garlic. Aioli is fancy French mayo spiked with garlic. My recipes hop back and forth from mayo to aioli, depending on my mood and my dinner, so I use the all-purpose name “mayoli.” And I can’t count all the ways to love it.
Of course, you can venture way beyond garlic – with thick, intense add-ins such as pesto or tomato paste, or spice blends such as Cajun seasoning. You can play with different oils. Once you get the base down, potential mayoli combinations are deliciously endless and infinitely useful.
Use mayoli as a dip, spread or condiment. Dollop it alongside seafood, grilled or poached meat, steamed asparagus or other veggies. Spread it on sandwiches and wraps. Use it to make superior egg salad or deviled eggs, or to take tuna, salmon or ham salad to the next level. Add it to pasta salad or potato salad. Garnish chowder or soup with a spoonful. Dip french fries and sweet potato fries in it. Dilute it to instantly create a delicious creamy salad dressing.
Everything tastes better with homemade mayoli. No matter how humble or ordinary your dinner, mayoli will instantly upgrade it. It’s a godsend for entry-level cooks and a staple in the repertoire of experienced cooks. I like to make a single batch of basic mayoli, and divide it in two or three separate bowls to prepare a selection of flavoured mayos. This makes a great addition to a buffet table or dinner party menu.
The Thick and Thin Of It
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