There’s a scene in the movie “Julie and Julia” where Julia and her Mastering the Art of French Cooking co-authors are discussing the task of creating a fool-proof mayonnaise recipe that housewives can duplicate. They’re trying to make it easy, but their angst makes it seem like it must be a difficult recipe to duplicate. Thus, I vowed never to try it.
Until I did.
It happened rather simply. I had six egg yolks left after a weekend of baking recipes that contained egg whites. I hate waste. I could feed them to my dog, but that felt like it wasn’t the frugal thing to do.
I remembered the mayonnaise recipe. I felt adventurous. I just decided to do it. Nike would be proud.
It turns out, making mayonnaise isn’t exactly difficult-it just takes a lot of time. If you don’t have a KitchenAid mixer or a stand mixer, it will also take a lot of muscle power. Fortunately, I have Babs and a book to keep my occupied during the half hour mixing process. Use a medium speed on your mixer while incorporating the oil.
Homemade mayonnaise is SO. MUCH. BETTER. than store-bought mayo. I can hardly believe I waited this long to make it. I’m not a huge mayo fan, but I find I am using it more now that I have my little plastic container of homemade bliss. It’s rich and creamy and doesn’t taste like plastic.
If I can do it, you can do it! This recipe comes, of course, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, published in 1961. It makes about a cup of mayo. I’ve included some videos to help you, as it really is necessary to show the process of incorporating the oil into the yolks.
It starts with three egg yolks and a mixer-although I kept thinking about how Julia did the beating of the yolks and the oil by hand… ouch!
Julia has some extra tips with her recipe.
1.) Temperature: Mayonnaise is easiest to make when all ingredients are at normal room temperature. Warm the mixing bowl in hot water to take the chill off the egg yolks. Heat the oil to tepid if it is cold. Make sure your egg yolks are at room temperature.
2.) Egg Yolks: Always beat the egg yolks for a minute or two before adding anything to them. As soon as they are thick and sticky, they are ready to absorb the oil.
3.) Adding the Oil: The oil must be added very slowly at first, in droplets, until the emulsion process begins and the sauce thickens into a heavy cream. After this, the oil may be incorporated more rapidly.
4.) Proportions: The maximum amount of oil one U.S. Large egg yolk will absorb is 6 ounces or 3/4 cup. When this maximum is exceeded, the binding properties of the egg yolks break down, and the sauce thins out or curdles. If you have never made made mayonnaise before, it is safest not to exceed 1/2 cup of oil per egg yolk.
5.) REFRIGERATION: After several days under refrigeration, mayonnaise has a tendency to thin out, especially if it is stirred before it comes to room temperature.
3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups olive oil
Warm the mixing bowl by running it under warm water. Dry and add egg yolks, beating for 1-2 minutes, until they are thick and sticky.
Add 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, the salt and the mustard. Beat for 30 seconds.
Time to add the olive oil
The egg yolks are now ready to receive the oil. Add it a teaspoon at a time while beating the mixture constantly. Watch the oil and not the sauce. When the egg yolks have absorbed the oil, add another teaspoon-and not before!
Keep doing this until you have added 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the oil. At that point, you’ll see the sauce thicken and you can take a deep breath, because the “crisis” point is over. If you are beating the sauce by hand, you can rest for a second. Then keep adding the oil, one to two tablespoons at a time, blending thoroughly after each addition.
When you have added all the oil, beat two tablespoons of boiling water into the sauce to keep it from curdling.
Season to taste with wine vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, mustard, curry, or any other spice you like.
Thickened up and ready for sandwiches!
If the sauce is not used immediately, scrape it into a small bowl and cover it closely so a skin will not form on its surface.