Saturday, April 24, 2010

I tried to make mayo using the blender and then the processor. Both methods produced mayo soup. What is the best way?

This is great question, and one that troubled me a lot early in my culinary career. There is nothing worse than having to whip up an aioli just before a dinner rush. With a million other things on your plate, it falls apart into a soupy mix of egg and oil. You have to scrap the effort and start over. Once you get it down pat, it'll be a valuable weapon in your culinary arsenal.
I want to take a second to discuss the difference between an aioli and a mayonnaise: there's no difference, enough said. Some will argue that aioli is made with olive oil and/or garlic so it has more flavor. Regardless the terms end up as interchangeable marketing terms used by restaurants and chefs when it seems right. The fact remains that they're both egg yolk whipped up with oil.
Making mayo is simple, but simple aint always easy. There's a bunch of cool science stuff behind all of it, but I won't beat you over the head with the chemistry. Just know that the overall ratios are important to yielding a good final product.
Also keep in mind we're constructing an emulsion here, or arranging fat and water molecules with a little bit of air. If these don't align properly you're going to have mayo soup. For a mayo emulsion, the key is a strong foundation; starting the emulsion is where most mayos go awry: without it you can't build a great mayonnaise.
As with all the recipes I put forth, this is very basic and open to futzing apart from the ratios. You can use any flavor vinegar for this and any oil or combination of oils. I like half extra virgin oil and half canola oil. Using only olive oil can be very intense (and expensive). Lastly, I'm a fan of pure aioli, but depending on its destination you might want to sup it up a bit with some extra flavorings.

Quick Mayo

1 Egg yolk
1 tbsp Acid (lemon juice or vinegar)
1 tsp Water
1 tsp Dijon Mustard <- HAS to be dijon
1 cup Oil
Salt to taste

Optional: Grated garlic, roasted garlic, herbs:tarragon, chives, cilantro, chervil etc, spices: black pepper, cayenne, smoked paprika, coriander, saffron etc, Booze: cognac, amaretto, bourbon, grand mariner

Method 1- Immersion Blender
1. In a vessel that your blender fits snugly into, place the yolk, acid, water, and dijon. Using a fork or a small whisk, mix these initial ingredients very well.
2. Add the oil (and extra flavorings if you're using them) and allow the to settle for a minute of two.
3. Insert your immersion blender and using pulses, start he emulsion. Once you see that it has taken continue to pulse, slowly lifting up. Once you're 3/4 of the way emulsified you can put the petal to the metal and buzz it all together.
4. Season your mayo and test it for acidity.

That's right, I'm wearing a Hawaiian shirt.

Method 2- Food Processor
1. In the bowl with the blade place the yolk, acid, water, and dijon. Turn the processor on and mix these initial ingredients very well.
2. With the machine still running, very slowly begin to add the oil. Continuing to barely drizzle until you can see that the emulsion is taking. You can pick up the pace with your drizzle, but don't rush it. You're bound to break it.
3. Once the mayo is set, season with salt and test for acidity.

Tips: If the mayonnaise seems gloppy add another teaspoon of water (or vinegar if you'd like it more tangy). It will smooth the whole thing out.
Fixes: If your mayo breaks (becomes liquid) during the process, set aside the broken mayo, wipe out the container and start over. Once you've successfully made a new mayo, slowly add the broken mixture, it will incorporate perfectly.
Notes: You can make mayo in a blender, but the blades tend to be a little harsh for getting it started. So blenders are less than ideal.
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