Mayonnaise it’s hot in here…ammiright? Yeah, I’m funny like that. Yeesh, tough crowd.
Anyway, mayonnaise that kind of disgusting thing we all are so fond of. That falls into that realm of mysterious kitchen product, which you probably don’t want to know how it’s made, kind of like shortening, and hot dogs. Yet, you can’t deny it’s all powerful presence in the kitchen. It’s delicious, and it makes other food delicious. So I think it’s high time we understand this delicious gloopy weirdness.
So it turns out mayonnaise hails from Spain, and was popularized by the French, and is just another run-of-the-mill emulsion. When it comes to making emulsions there are a few things that need to happen. We know that water and oil don’t really like each other, so we need “something” that on one side of this “thing” it likes oil, and on the other side of this “thing” it likes water. This thing can then hold on to water and to oil, and will stabilize the oil and water mixture. This “thing” is called an emulsifier. One of the best emulsifiers are lecithin, which is found in egg yolks, which molecular speaking has one side that likes water and one side that likes oil. Another good stabilizer is mustard, for a somewhat different reason (basically, to make mustard, you grind up little mustard seeds, and those seeds have a lot of “mucilage” which helps coat oil, and allows it then coexist in water..).
Another thing an emulsion needs is to add the oil slowly. Basically like we said earlier you need to disperse the oil into a bazillion tiny little droplets which get interspersed throughout the water, and in order to do that properly, you need to add the oil slowly.
Traditionally, mayonnaise is a pain in the butt to make, because you need to whisk constantly with one hand, while slowly adding the oil, which means somehow stabilizing your bowl (a towel curled up around it helps), and whisking some more, and then some more, and yeah, it’s annoying. Then came along the food processor, and things got much easier, especially if you use it properly (utilizing that piece on top that has a tiny little hole that allows the oil to stream in slowly), but it’s still hard if you want to make small batches. But now I bring you an even easier way, and all you need is a stick blender, and thin-ish cup.
All you need to do is add the yolk, lemon juice (or vinegar), mustard, spices, and whatever else you’re planning on putting in except for the oil (in our case it was chipotle and garlic), and then pour all of the oil on top of it, stick your blender in, and turn it on. As it starts off, the blender slowly starts pulling in the oil little by little, which is perfect for mayo, until the whole kit and caboodle thickens up like mayonnaise. (You’re going to want a thin vessel so the bulk of the oil remains on top of everything, and is slowly brought down into the yolk mixture)
There’s a lot of different opinions as to how much oil you should use per yolk, but as Harold McGee says, what maters isn’t the amount of yolk, but the amount of water, which is in the form of lemon juice/vinegar, some of the yolk, mustard, and also plain water, and as he says the water part should be 1/3 of the amount of oil, so if you’re going to use a cup of oil, you should have 1/3 cup of yolk, lemon juice/vinegar, mustard, and water.
For this recipe, I used dried chipotle (you can use the canned ones if you’d like), which I had rehydrated with hot water (and let it sit for 5 minutes…that top picture), added some minced garlic (and yes, I know that “garlic mayonnaise” is called aioli, it was just too much to say chipotle aioli), and then poured the oil on top, and voila!
Since you’re still reading I’ll let you in something cool. One of the amazing things about mayonnaise is that it’s a oil-in-water emulsion. You see most emulsions are oil in water emulsions (the exceptions that I know are – butter and a vinaigrette, both of which have more oil than water), however the cool thing about mayonnaise is that the ratio of water to oil is 1 part water to 3-4 parts oil, that means that there’s roughly 3-4 times more oil than water, and yet we consider the water as the main part, and the oil is the part that gets dispersed among it. This kind of shows you the power of the egg yolk, and it’s ability to emulsify oil and water. Who needs molecular gastronomy when you have regular cooking??
Chipotle Garlic Mayonnaise
- 2-3 small dried chipotle
- hot water
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice/vinegar
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 cup vegetable or canola oil
- Cut up chipotle peppers, and pour enough hot water over them, and allow them to sit to re-hydrate, about 5 minutes
- Drain the peppers and reserve 1 tablespoon of the water
- To the chilis and water, add the yolk, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, and salt and pepper, and blend them
- Then add your oil, all at once on top of the other stuff, and stick your stick blender in, and turn it on, and watch as mayonnaise magic happens right in front of your very eyes