There is nothing to beat really excellent mayonnaise for flavour and versatility. You can add a variety of flavours to it, serve it on the side of your mixed salads, add it to your chips instead of ketchup, make it into dips, create coleslaw, coronation chicken and many other wonderful salad side dishes (see my potato salad recipe at the bottom of this page) – in fact, it goes with almost any savoury dish in one guise or another.
However, it’s long been my contention that commercial mayo is nothing remotely like the real thing. It tends to be a creamy emulsified mixture without the body, richness or intensity of flavour you expect from truly indulgent hand-whisked mayo. Hellmanns has the reputation of being the market leader, although its slogan “real tastes better” belies the fact that many of its products contain a lot of water and emulsifiers, and all are created on a vast industrial scale that will never deliver the perfection of the hand-made product. The colour alone tells you that since real mayo made with fresh free-range eggs has a gloriously creamy colour rather than the Dulux white of industrial brands (which if it were yellowish would be via added colouring.)
That said, I found one commercial brand that is much closer to the real thing. Delouis mayonnaise is not at all bad – though it would be useful to know if there are other brands worth trying.
However, this is the recipe section and the best solution of all is to make your own. Granted it is a fiddly process, but it’s worth every second of attention and well-honed flick of the wrist. Like riding a bike, this is a craft you will never lose.
To begin with, select your ingredients with care:
- 2 egg yolks, but not just any eggs will do – they have to be very, very fresh, preferably plucked that very day from free-range hens of your acquaintance (in my case, from the flock belonging to a near-neighbour.) The better your eggs, the more yellow the yolks tend to be.
- 1 tsp English mustard powder.
- Garlic: 1 clove crushed & finely chopped, or a little garlic puree – don’t overdo it.
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, the best you can find, or fresh lemon juice.
- 1/2 pint of vegetable oil: be careful here – nothing too strongly flavoured. Olive oil, if used, should be mixed with a blander oil. I find corn or groundnut oil is excellent – both give a nutty flavour. Must be at room temperature.
- Sea salt and fresh milled black pepper
Mix the egg yolks, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl, using a good big whisk. Add oil a drop at a time, and whisk in thoroughly before adding the next drop. It will only curdle if you add oil too quickly, so take a little time to beat it in drop by drop.
When the mixture begins to thicken, add vinegar or lemon juice to thin it. Then pour oil in slowly but steadily, whisking rapidly all the time. The mayo is ready when it is thick and does not fall easily off a spoon. It will keep, covered in the fridge, for up to a week.
Andy’s Potato Salad
- New potatoes (ideally Jersey Royals), boiled, cooled and chopped into even chunks
- Batch of mayonnaise (see above)
- Grana Padano cheese, preferably fresh grated
- Chives or spring onions, finely chopped
- Few thin slices of red chilli to pep things up (optional)
- Dusting of smoked paprika (optional)
- Sea salt & freshly milled black pepper
Add ingredients to the desired consistency, mix, leave to chill in the fridge for an hour (covered) and serve.