There is a superstition that the third time is the charm – charm, meaning in earlier times a magical means of success, or of warding off evil. Maybe, maybe not, but I needed three tries to make some tasty homemade mayonnaise – and the results were totally charming.
For a kid who grew up on Miracle Whip it was a revelation that homemade mayonnaise is really good and not difficult to make. Consisting of egg yolk, vinegar or lemon juice, mustard, and a quantity of vegetable oil it is one of the easiest sauces to make in the kitchen and from what I’ve learned, can be easily rescued if the charm wears off. My goal was to make a lemony, herb-infused mayo in place of Tartar Sauce to serve with my favorite Salmon Cakes. I turned to Fine Cooking.com my favorite resource for all things delectable and found a great article on Creamy Mayonnaise and lots of flavoring options to enhance any number of foods.
The first try whipped up beautifully, I could not have been happier with the consistency. What I did not realize however was that for most purposes a neutral, or mild tasting oil is probably what you want to use. I used a strong flavored, extra-virgin olive oil and the flavor of the oil overwhelmed the other flavors. In fact overwhelmed is probably too kind a term, the stuff was inedible. I was also out of breath because I used a small whisk to emulsify the mixture and that took a lot of stirring.
So after a quick trip to the store to buy some more oil I tried it again with a mild grape seed oil. This time I used an electric mixer and while handling the mixer in one hand and drizzling oil with the other hand things got out of control. Instead of the mayonnaise becoming increasingly thick and voluminous it turned into something that looked rather like yellow cottage cheese floating in oil. My mayonnaise had “broken”. What I learned after the fact is that you can rescue the broken mayo by adding about two teaspoons of water to a clean bowl and ever so slowly whisk in the broken sauce. It will quickly re-emulsify and have the flavor and consistency you’d intended. Should your sauce become too thick you can add water a teaspoon at a time to smooth it out.
The third time I went back to the hand whisk method but used a larger, heavier whisk. I used a Bertolli brand, mild olive oil this time because I felt that the olive flavor would be good with salmon. To that mixture I added some lemon zest and some chopped dill, and tarragon. And it was great! The remainder went into tuna salad for lunch today. Wow, you gotta try this!