(recipe, Shirley O. Corriher)
To make mayonnaise, you start with an egg yolk or a whole egg and a little liquid — lemon juice, water, or prepared mustard, which contains vinegar. In the case of whole-egg mayonnaise, most of the liquid is in the egg white. The emulsifiers in the egg yolk dissolve in the liquid and drastically lower its surface tension. Then you turn on the blender (or start whisking vigorously) and add the oil. The blender (or whisk) breaks the oil into tiny droplets. The emulsifier coats these droplets to prevent their running together, and the water is free to flow between the oil droplets. You're on your way to a good mayonnaise.
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp. water
- ½ tsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. dry mustard
- 1 scant teaspoon salt
- Pinch of cayenne (optional)
- 1 cup canola, peanut, vegetable, or pure olive oil, not extra-virgin olive oil
- Heat the egg yolks, lemon juice, water, and sugar in a small skillet over very low heat, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan constantly with a spatula. At the first sign of thickening, remove the pan from the heat, but continue stirring. Dip the pan bottom in a large pan of cold water to stop the cooking.
- Scrape into a blender, blend for a second or so, then let stand uncovered at least 5 minutes to cool. Add the dry mustard, salt, and cayenne (if using). Cover and, with the blender running, drizzle the oil in very slowly at first, down the center hole into the egg mixture.
- Transfer mayonnaise to a clean container and chill immediately. This will keep for at least a week in the refrigerator.
Be sure to use room-temperature ingredients; chilled or warmed ingredients will prevent the mayonnaise from emulsifying.