Homemade Mayonnaise and Garlic Alioli
In preparation for my tapas-themed 30th birthday party (that post coming soon…), I decided to make the most essential tapas element of them all: alioli. A traditional sauce from southern France/northern Spain (I think the name is actually Catalán), Aioli/Alioli is a creamy garlic spread, made from olive oil and eggs, that can do anything that mayonnaise can do, but better. And– as it turns out– this is one sauce that will convince many a mayonnaise-hating garlic lover to make an exception.
Actually, even in its pre-garlic stage*, this homemade mayonnaise led one particular mayonnaise hater I know to make an exception… Somehow mayonnaise becomes less of a gloppy and sickening indulgence** and more of a miraculous and tasty successful chemistry experiment when you make it yourself at home.
Making your own fresh mayonnaise at home is worth it, especially if you have an electric mixer, like I don’t. The thing with making mayonnaise is that you want to whisk the oil into the egg yolks to make an emulsion (i.e., you want the sauce to thicken into something blended, creamy, and opaque, rather than separating out into translucent oil versus egg). To accomplish this, you have to add the oil only a FEW DROPS at a time. Apparently (according to multiple internet sources, such as this one), if you pour in the oil too quickly, your mayonnaise will separate, into an eggdrop soup.***
EDIT: Now, several months later, I finally own an electric mixer! So I can present you with a printable version of an Even Easier Homemade Mayonnaise! (The dipping sauce recipe from the blog post: Steamed Artichoke with Spicy Mayonnaise Dipping Sauce.)
I no longer worry so much about the mayonnaise separating while using the electric mixer, and I still pour the oil in gradually, though more like a glug at a time rather than only a few drops. This is much faster and easier than the way I described in this original post.
So (other than remembering to bring all of your ingredients to room temperature!) this is the time-consuming part: add the oil only a few drops at a time, while whisking, and make sure that it is all fully emulsified each time before adding any more oil.**** Now you see where the electric whisk or mixer would have come in handy… The more oil you add (presumably up to a certain point when the emulsion collapses) the thicker your sauce will become; you can tailor it to your taste by stopping any time or just whisking in a little extra oil.
A note about the olive oil: I skimmed (& fell for) several alioli recipes that (in their show-off-y desire to be fancy and authentic) recommended Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil. If you give in to this fanciness, then your mayonnaise will continue to taste very strongly of olive oil, no matter how much garlic you attempt to mask that with. Next time I plan to use a much lighter, less flavorful oil instead, like sunflower oil, canola oil, or light olive oil.
By now, I’m sure you’ve realized that all of the slow pouring and constant whisking was worth it! My first mayonnaise-making was a success, and you can imagine the difficulty I had with the whole concept of “moderation” once I turned it into alioli and started dipping fresh bread into it. The extra alioli stayed perfectly emulsified for a week in the fridge, but there wasn’t much left by then after all of the sandwiches I spread it on.
* Some alioli recipes suggest grinding the garlic together with salt in a mortar and pestle and adding that to the egg yolks right from the start. I waited to add the garlic until the end instead, only because I wanted to use half of the mayonnaise for alioli, and save the other half for a different sauce (also coming soon…).
** I admit I am not actually a mayonnaise hater; I happen to like mayonnaise (in moderation), and I like Japanese mayonnaise (e.g., Kewpie) in excess of moderation.
*** The eggdrop soup separation problem can be remedied by whisking the mixture into an additional room temperature egg yolk, which will re-emulsify the sauce.
**** The recipe I adapted below suggests that once you’ve whisked in about 1/3 cup of oil, you can start adding the oil more quickly, while still whisking to keep it emulsified; I tried this and it worked just fine!
Homemade Mayonnaise and Garlic Alioli
(Adapted from this.)
(Yields about 2 cups)
~ 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
~ 2-3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (or vinegar such as cider, rice, or white wine vinegar)
~ ¼ tsp. salt (or more, to taste)
~ 1-1½ cups oil (try using a light, flavorless oil instead of stronger tasting virgin olive oils)
~ ½ tsp. mustard powder (or 1 tsp. mustard)
~ pinch of white pepper, to taste
Also needed for Alioli:
~ 2-3 cloves fresh garlic
~ additional ¼ tsp. salt (or reserve the ¼ tsp. salt from above and grind this with the garlic)
How to make it:
2. Whisk together the egg yolks, lemon juice, and salt (or garlic/salt, for alioli).
3. Begin to drizzle in the oil, only a FEW DROPS at a time! Continue whisking and make sure the mixture is smooth and emulsified (with no visibly separated oil) each time before adding more oil. This process is SLOW; just be patient and keep reminding yourself not to pour in the oil too quickly.
4. After about 1/3 cup of oil has been whisked in and incorporated into the sauce, you should finally be able to start adding the oil more quickly– as you whisk– without it separating.
5. Continue adding and whisking in oil until the mayonnaise is your desired thickness. Add optional seasoning, such as mustard powder, ground white pepper, or extra salt. You can also add the chopped/pressed garlic at the end– just whisk it in– if you have a last-minute change of heart and decide to make alioli after all. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to a week.
EDIT: Or, print this Even Easier Homemade Mayonnaise Recipe! (As mentioned in the EDIT above, and as seen in this post: Steamed Artichoke with Spicy Mayonnaise Dipping Sauce.)