3 egg yolks
3-5 Tb wine vinegar or lemon juice
1 1/2 to 2 1/4 cups of olive oil, salad oil or a mixture of each
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dry or prepared mustard
Makes 2 to 2 3/4 cups mayonnaise
Mayonnaise like hollandaise is a process of forcing egg yolks to absorb a fatty substance, oil in this case, and to hold it in thick and creamy suspension. But as the egg yolks do not have to be warmed, the sauce is that much simpler to make than hollandaise. You can make it by machine in a blender, although the processor produces a larger and better sauce. Either way it is almost automatic, and takes no skill whatsoever. Mayonnaise done by hand or with an electric beater requires familiarity with egg yolks. And again, as with hollandaise, you should be able to make it by hand as part of your general mastery of the egg yolk. It is certainly far from difficult once you understand the process, and after you have done it a few times, you should easily and confidently be able to whip together a quart of sauce in less than 10 minutes.
POINTS TO REMEMBER when making mayonnaise by hand
Mayonnaise is easiest to make when all ingredients are at normal room temperature. Warm the mixing bowl in hot water to take the chill off the egg yolks. Heat the oil to tepid if it is cold.
Always beat the egg yolks for a minute or two before adding anything to them. As soon as they are thick and sticky, they are ready to absorb the oil.
Adding the Oil
The oil must be added very slowly at first, in droplets, until the emulsion process begins and the sauce thickens into a heavy cream. After this, the oil may be incorporated more rapidly.
The maximum amount of oil one U.S. Large egg yolk will absorb is 6 ounces or 3/4 cup. When this maximum is exceeded, the binding properties of the egg yolks break down, and the sauce thins out or curdles. If you have never made mayonnaise before, it is safest not to exceed 1/2 cup of oil per egg yolk.
NOTE: The following directions are for a hand-beaten sauce. Exactly the same system is followed for an electric beater. Use the large bowl, and the moderately fast speed for whipping cream. Continually push the sauce into the beater blades with a rubber scraper.
Warm a round-bottomed, 2 1/2-to 3-quart glazed pottery, glass, or stainless steel mixing bowl in hot water. Dry it and set it in a heavy casserole or saucepan to keep it from slipping. Add the egg yolks and beat for 1 to 2 minutes until they are thick and sticky.
Add 1 tablespoon wine vinegar or lemon juice, plus the salt and mustard. Beat for 30 seconds more.
The egg yolks are now ready to receive the oil. If it is cold, heat it to tepid; and if you are a novice, use the minimum amount. While it goes in, drop by drop, you must not stop beating until the sauce has thickened. A speed of 2 strokes per second is fast enough. You can switch hands or switch directions, it makes no difference as long as you beat constantly. Add the drops of oil with a teaspoon, or rest the lip of the bottle on the edge of the bowl. Keep your eye on the oil rather than on the sauce. Stop pouring and continue beating every 10 seconds or so, to be sure the egg yolks are absorbing the oil. After 1/3 to 1/2 cup of oil has been incorporated, the sauce will thicken into a very heavy cream and the crisis is over. The beating arm may rest a moment. Then beat in the remaining oil by 1 to 2 tablespoon dollops, blending it thoroughly after each addition.
When the sauce becomes too thick and stiff, beat in drops of wine vinegar or lemon juice to thin it out. Then continue with the oil.
Beat 2 tablespoons boiling water into the sauce. This is an anti-curdling insurance. Season to taste with wine vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and mustard.
If the sauce is not used immediately, scrape it into a small bowl and cover it closely so a skin will not form on its surface.
REMEDY FOR TURNED MAYONNAISE
You will never have trouble with freshly made mayonnaise if you have beaten the egg yolks thoroughly in a warmed bowl before adding the oil, if the oil has been added in droplets until the sauce has commenced to thicken, and if you have not exceeded the maximum proportions of 3/4 cup of oil per egg yolk. A mayonnaise has turned when it refuses to thicken, or, in a finished mayonnaise, when the oil releases itself from suspension and the sauce curdles. In either case, the remedy is simple.
Warm a mixing bowl in hot water. Dry it. Add 1 teaspoon of prepared mustard and 1 teaspoon of sauce. Beat with a wire whip for several seconds unil they cream and thicken together. Beat in the rest of the sauce by teaspoons, thickening each addition before adding the next. This always works. Just be sure you add the turned sauce a little bit at a time, particularly at first.
After several days under refrigeration, mayonnaise has a tendency to thin out, especially if it is stirred before it comes to room temperature. If it does turn, bring it back using the preceding system.