filling the empty nest with food


IMG_2135Mayonnaise is one of the foundational cold sauces in classic French cuisine. It’s actually very simple (yeah, right, you scoff) and involves an emulsion, or combining two unlike components. The key is to avoid having the components, egg and oil, separate back into their original states. The reward is that once you master the technique of a homemade mayonnaise, you then have at your fingertips a multitude of flavor variations.

But my big question here is: does it matter if you make your Escoffier mayonnaise by hand, sweating through the whisking of multiple hundreds of drops of oil into your egg yolk flavored with salt, pepper, and lemon juice, anxiously hoping you drop the oil in slowly enough and keep whisking quickly enough to keep the mixture emulsified and avoiding the dreaded separation that results in a “turned” mayonnaise and shows without a doubt that you have FAILED? Or do you just say, screw all that unpredictability, put your ingredients in the blender and, voila, in 30 seconds you’ve got a rich, creamy homemade mayonnaise that tastes just like the one you slaved over? Is it still authentic?

Help me out, my friends. Where do you come down on this?

See this helpful video for Escoffier’s mayonnaise made with an immersion blender:


  • Avoid canola oil as it tends to give mayonnaise a fishy flavor. Yuck.
  • You can make as much or as little as you like; start with one egg yolk and about 1/2 cup oil. Julia Child says one large American egg yolk can absorb no more than 3/4 cup oil.
  • Warm your bowl and have your egg and oil at room temperature. That will increase your odds of success.

Escoffier’s Mayonnaise (1/6th original recipe)
1 egg yolk
120 ml oil (Escoffier says 167 ml, but I’ve found that’s too much)
2 grams salt
pinch of ground white pepper
1/4 tsp vinegar or lemon juice

Whisk the yolk in a bowl with the salt, pepper, and a few drops of the vinegar or lemon juice. Add and whisk in the oil, drop by drop to begin with, then faster in a thread as the sauce begins to thicken. Adjust the consistency ocasionally by adding the vinegar or lemon juice. Lastly, add 1 teaspoon boiling water which is added to ensure that the emulsification holds if the sauce is to be reseved for later use.


2 comments on “Mayonnaise

  1. Sue
    February 22, 2015

    I enjoy reading your blog…and I’d go for the blender!

    • Catherine
      February 23, 2015

      Thanks, Sue! I’ve actually made mayonnaise both the old-fashioned and the more modern way. Blenders and immersion blenders are so much more successful–at least for me.

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This entry was posted on February 22, 2015 by in Recipes, Sauces and tagged , , , .

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