I’m not sure why the heavy, spiky globe artichoke spoke to me in the market a few weeks ago, but it did and I brought it home. I meant to cook and eat it during the Royal Wedding, but who was I kidding? I could scarcely tear myself away from the TV to go to the bathroom, let alone the kitchen. I cooked it the next day and we ate it on a picnic, with a dollop of store-bought mayo. It was good, but I kept thinking: How can I make this better?
I’d never tried my hand at homemade mayonnaise before, but you know me — once I’d seized upon the idea, there was no stopping me. I read a few recipes, plucked an egg from the fridge, and started whisking the yolk and some olive oil together. Soon, I had a soupy, oily mess on my hands.
My mayonnaise had broken. Luckily, I’d read enough food memoirs and blogs to know this happens all the time. I turned to the internet and, after scouring these handy tips, diagnosed the problem as an icy egg yolk that had resisted emulsifying with room temperature oil. I warmed up another yolk, added the original mixture drop by drop and whisked until my arm fell off. And, ta da! Mayonnaise was made!
It was delicious — creamy, with a citrusy tang and a deep bitter olive oil undernote. My only quibble is that it was a bit too thin once I added a squeeze of lemon juice. Perhaps I need to make another batch to perfect my technique. Oh, yes, I really think I do.
Adapted from The Zuni Café Cookbook by Judy Rodgers
1 egg yolk, room temperature
1/2 cup (or more) mild olive oil
Note: I learned the hard way that the ideal temperature for ALL the ingredients (including the lemon) is 70ºF.
Whisk the yolk with a few grains of salt. Add the oil in a faint trickle and continue whisking constantly until the mixture becomes thick and sticky and you feel like your arm is going to fall off. When the mayonnaise is very thick — overly thick, really — add a squeeze of lemon juice and another dash of salt. Whisk and taste, adding more lemon juice or salt as necessary. The leftovers, thinned with lemon juice, make a delicious salad dressing.
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