David's Recipe for Classic Mayonnaise

Don't let the cookbooks scare you. Mayonnaise is very easy to make, it always thickens properly, and it almost never "breaks". Just don't try this recipe if you think that your local eggs might be contaminated with Salmonella.

Cold Sauce, Salad Dressing, or Ingredient, French

  • 2 egg yolks
  • Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1-1/2 cups "pure" olive oil. This is one of the few recipes where it might not be better to use "extra virgin". You need the extra acidity of the lower grades of olive oil, and extra virgin tends to give a bitter aftertaste to the mayonnaise. You may have to try a few different brands to get the taste you want. The real problem with mayonnaise is the taste, not the emulsion.
  • 1/4 coffee spoon freshly ground white pepper (Omit if using the mayonnaise as a sauce-base.)
  1. Beat the yolks with the lemon juice.
  2. Add the oil to the yolks and the lemon juice a little at a time. Start with 1/2 coffee spoon at a time. Beat well for 1/2 minute or so by hand. I use a fork. After three or four additions, the mayonnaise will start to thicken noticeably. Then you can start adding the oil about 1 or 2 coffee spoons at a time. By the time you have finished the oil, the mayonnaise should be almost as thick as the store-bought kind (Ick!), glossier, "heavier", and much yellower.
  3. Beat in the white pepper.
  4. Refrigerate the mayonnaise for at least 1/2 hour to let the pepper blend in. I keep the mayonnaise refrigerated constantly until use and try to finish it the same day, for reasons of safety.
  5. You can use a little more lemon juice to suit your own taste, but the mayonnaise will be thinner. Despite what many cookbooks say, you can add more oil for a thicker mayonnaise.

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