To Mayo or Not to Mayo?

November 20, 2016
That's the question, isn't it? To slather our sandwiches with that uniquely tart oleaginous spread we've been eating all our lives--or to create a just-as-delicious mixture that is quick and healthy?
Years ago, while taking part in a large study designed to monitor the effects of a low-fat diet on various body parts, I invented a non-mayo spread that I've used ever since. You can make up a large-ish quantity and keep it for a week or just put together the amount that you need for a particular dish. Here are the approximate proportions (I never measure for this spread, nor should you):
1 c. yogurt*
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon mango chutney**
Mix these together in a small bowl & bob's your uncle--you have a delicious replacement for mayo. Use it for sandwiches (yes, even your BLT) and for tuna or salmon or chicken salad. And, to feel even better about your choices, compare these ingredients with those listed on the abominable low-fat versions of mayonnaise.
But now let's talk about mayonnaise itself. You know that it is an emulsion in which a large quantity of oil is held suspended in egg. It's done by black magic, I think. Well, maybe not. But my point here is that it is an egg-based product. And if that is so, how can it sit for months at a time in your refrigerator? Oh, yes. We're talking about Better Living Through Chemistry, aren't we? Check the label on even the best brands of mayonnaise.
I am here to advocate making your own. If, for a special occasion, you want the Real Thing, then in less than ten minutes you can make a batch of mayonnaise yourself--no preservatives, nothing added to "retard spoilage." Just egg, mustard, oil, and lemon juice, plus whatever additional flavourings you are craving.  The instructions I give here make use of your food processor, because that's the easiest way. But you can also make it in a blender or the time-honoured method of whisking it by hand (this one takes more than ten minutes).
Into the bowl of your food processor, put
1 egg
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
pinch of salt
Put 1 c. extra virgin olive oil*** into a measuring cup with a pouring spout. Start the processor and begin to add--very slowly--the oil.****
When all the oil has been incorporated *****, stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add 1 or 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or a good vinegar (sherry, white or red wine; balsamic is a bit too strong on its own but a few drops could be nice). Pulse the machine a couple of times to mix in the lemon juice, and you're done. Transfer to a clean bowl or jar and keep refrigerated.
To make a garlic mayonnaise: Before you put the egg into the bowl of the processor, chop a clove of garlic by dropping the peeled clove into the turned-on processor. In just a few seconds it will be chopped fine. Leave it in the bowl and proceed with the egg and mustard, etc.
*We all know that the ingredients listed on your yogurt container should be milk and yogurt starter. No gelatin, please. No nothing at all except milk and starter. It should also be plain yogurt, of course. Let's please stop buying sugar in our yogurt. Read the ingredients!
**Any fruity, slightly sweet chutney will do here. The tiny bit of chutney gives the mixture a piquancy that lifts it well beyond "mustard-flavoured yogurt."
***You can use half seed oil and half olive oil if you prefer. Some people find an all-olive-oil mayo to be too strong.
****And here is the beauty of the food processor. At least, I hope yours is as well-designed as mine. In my Cuisinart model, the removable plastic pusher that sits in the feed tube has a tiny hole drilled in the bottom. As far as I can tell, its only purpose is to allow a steady stream of oil to drip into your mayonnaise mixture. To take advantage of it, assuming your model offers this same feature, simply pour as much of your measured oil as will fit into the well of the pusher and let the machine run as the oil drips. When there's room, add the remainder of the oil to the pusher.
If you don't have the cunning little oil-dripping hole in your pusher, then you'll have to add the oil manually, as you will also have to do if you are using a blender. Start with half a teaspoon of oil. After several additions of this size, you can raise it to a teaspoon and then gradually a tablespoon at a time. If you have a steady hand, you can, after the first couple of half-teaspoons, pour in a slow, thin stream of oil as the machine runs.
*****If you have added the oil too quickly, the emulsion may break. Believe me, you'll know if it has broken just by looking at the no-longer-smooth mixture. Rescue it this way: empty it into a dish and wipe out the food processor bowl. Now put an egg into the bowl and run the machine for a few seconds, after which you can begin adding the broken emulsion back into that new egg, a teaspoon at a time.


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