kitchen firsts: homemade mayonnaise + bacon deviled eggs
This week I decided to make mayonnaise from scratch for the first time. I’d been meaning to try it for quite awhile, but this week I didn’t have anything else in mind for a kitchen first, and the timing seemed appropriate since I am hoping to audition a few new summery recipes this week that need a little bit of mayonnaise each (potato salad, anyone?). People are always raving about how much better homemade mayonnaise is, and I decided to see for myself.
Oh, and did I mention these bacon deviled eggs? We decided to try them because we had lots of eggs, wanted a snack, and I wanted to do something right away with my fresh mayonnaise, but I realized I’ve never actually made deviled eggs before so I guess I’m getting a double kitchen first out of the deal. Can anyone say no to a deviled egg? This recipe can be made with or without the bacon and is fairly standard, so if you’re look for a meat-free version this can certainly be it. Although really, you can’t ask for a better combination than bacon and eggs (scroll to the bottom if you want to skip to the eggs!).
I’ve read a lot about making mayonnaise by hand, à la Julia Child, but as a first-timer I was a little nervous about the potential for curdling– reading the recipe makes it sound a bit fussy (warming the bowl, constant whisking, difficulty of emusifying oil drop by drop), and I wondered if I would be able to do it right on the first batch. I knew it was also possible to make it in a food processor, but I sort of considered that cheating a bit so I was holding off. We also don’t eat a lot of mayonnaise around here under normal circumstances, so I didn’t know quite what I’d do with all the mayonnaise if I made it.
Then, I got a copy of The Pleasures of Cooking for One from the library (incidentally, if you can get your hands on a copy of that book even if you don’t cook for one, it’s a really great cookbook and one of NPR’s top 10 cookbooks of last year) and it had a great small-batch recipe for mayonnaise that motivated me to give it a try. I decided to experiment with both food processor mayonnaise and hand beaten mayonnaise, and I’m including the recipes for both here.
Here are a few conclusions, after trying both methods:
- I don’t think there’s any reason to fear making mayonnaise. The recipes here make small quantities, so if you mess up it won’t be much of a waste, but I really think that it’s pretty hard to mess it up if you just read the instructions until you know what to do, go slowly, and follow the rules carefully. I did it on the first try without any trouble using both the food processor and the hand whisking methods.
- Making mayonnaise is totally worth it. It tastes really good, doesn’t come in a jar full of preservatives, and if you use the hand method I like to think you burn off the calories in it with all the whisking! Plus, you’ll feel all proud of yourself for making it yourself.
- You can customize the flavor to your liking. I personally like mine with a neutral oil, but if you like olive oil you can go nuts with that, or you can mix oils (I liked the taste of a part canola, part grapeseed batch we did). I like the bright effect of lemon juice as the acid, but I also like the flavor of white wine vinegar, so I tend to add the vinegar first and then add a bit of lemon when I’m seasoning at the end, but you can make that choice for yourself as well. Plus, if you want to get a little less traditional with it, you can season the end result in any number of ways (for general purposes I just put in a little white pepper, but you could add paprika, or some hot sauce, or whatever else suits your fancy).
- My food processor and hand versions tasted quite similar because I used the same oils, so I have to say that except for the self-satisfaction you get from making it by hand, there’s absolutely no reason not to use a food processor. I expected it to come out not as good as the hand stuff, but if you gave me a blind taste test I probably couldn’t tell the difference, so if being able to whir it up in the food processor super easily and quickly convinces you to make your own mayo on a regular basis, go for it!
Food Processor Mayonnaise
Adapted from Judith Jones’ The Pleasures of Cooking for One
Makes a little more than a cup
1 large egg (with a processor, you can use the whole egg rather than just the yolk)
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
half a lemon (or substitute white wine vinegar)
3/4 to 1 cup oil (olive, grapeseed, canola, safflower, peanut or a combination)
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the egg, mustard, a pinch of salt and a few drops of lemon juice or vinegar. Mix on low until combined. With the machine going, start by adding just a few drops of oil at a time, waiting until it’s combined before you add more. When you’ve added a few tablespoons and you see that it’s streaming in fine, you can pour in a steady stream rather than drop by drop. When you’ve added 3/4 cup of oil, stop spinning and add more lemon and salt to taste. If the mayonnaise isn’t thick enough for your purposes, stream in more oil until you’re happy, and adjust seasoning again. Use right away or store in a tightly covered container for up to a week.
Hand Beaten Mayonnaise
Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, via various internet sources
Makes a little less than a cup and half
2 egg yolks
1 T white wine vinegar (or lemon juice)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dijon mustard
1 to 1.5 cups oil (olive if you like the taste, we use canola/safflower/peanut for a neutral taste)
1 T boiling water
additional salt, lemon or vinegar, and if you like, white pepper, to taste
Begin by warming a medium glass, metal, or ceramic mixing bowl (i.e. not plastic) just by running it under hot tap water for a minute (I do it upside down so I don’t fill my bowl with water) and then drying it completely. Add the egg yolks and beat with a whisk for one or two minutes, until they are thick and frothy. Add the vinegar, salt, and mustard, and whisk for another 30 seconds.
Whisking constantly, begin adding the oil drop by drop with a spoon. Stop adding oil and focus on whisking about every 10 seconds or so, to be sure that the oil is incorporating, then add more. After you’ve added at least a third of the oil, the sauce will be thickening and you’re in the clear for curdling. You can rest your whisker a moment if you like. Then stream in more oil, tablespoon by tablespoon. When you’ve added enough oil that the sauce is just a little thicker than you’d like (for me this is somewhere between 1 1/4 cups and 1 1/2 cups), add the boiling water and stir in to sort of “set” the mayonnaise (people say it is an “anti-curdling” precaution but I know a lot of recipes that skip it, so I’m not sure if it’s necessary– Julia’s recipe calls for 2 T but I like my mayonnaise thicker so I use 1 T). Season to taste with salt, more lemon juice or vinegar, and a little white pepper if you like. Store, well covered, for up to one week.
Deviled Eggs with Bacon
Makes 8 eggs (you can play it up it to 12 or down to 6 by adjusting the mayo and mustard, to taste)
Note: if you want to omit the bacon, feel free, and it will make a pretty standard deviled egg recipe
8 eggs, hard-boiled (see how below)
1 green onion or a small bunch of chives, minced (you can also use a T of minced shallot or onion if you like)
3-4 T mayonnaise
1-2 tsp mustard (we tried sweet hot mustard for the tasty flavor, but it was a bit too sweet, so I’d advise a good ol’ dijon or just yellow mustard)
2 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled, plus a third strip to break in shards for garnish if you want
salt and pepper
optional: if you like pickles in deviled eggs you could mince some up and add those too, or you can add a splash of hot sauce. I also read about some bacon-kimchi deviled eggs, so if that sounds good you can finely chop up a tablespoon or two of kimchi and toss that in.
First, boil the eggs: put them in a saucepan, cover by a half inch with cold water, and set on high heat until it comes to a vigorous boil, then turn off the heat, cover, and let them sit. For some recipes I like a slightly softer yolk inside and I let it sit for only 7 or 8 minutes, but for these I like the yolk fully hard so I let them sit in the water for 10 minutes before removing to an ice bath. Cool the eggs and peel.
Cut the eggs in half, and then scoop out the yolks into a small bowl with a small spoon. Arrange the white halves on a plate. In the bowl, mix the yolks with the mayo and mustard until thoroughly combined. Then toss in the bacon and green onions and stir, and season with salt and pepper. If you’re adding anything else (pickles, kimchi, hot sauce) throw it in now. Taste the mixture and be sure it’s how you want it, and adjust if necessary. Spoon it back into the egg halves, sprinkle with paprika, and garnish with a little chunk of bacon if you like. Enjoy!