Monday, October 16, 2006
You think it's mayonnaise...but itsnot...
Get it-- "snot"? Very, very bad childhood joke. I'm just working with what I've got.
Today was the beginning of the great salad spin-off. We started with making mayonnaise and vinaigrettes, and then turning the mayos into a variety of creamy-style dressings. Way too much oil was consumed today, way too much.
Making mayonnaise is hard, grueling work. Seriously. Having to beat 12 ounces of oil into 2 egg yolks and some mustard and have it emulsify, thicken, and become an actual mayo and not some sort of mayonnaise-like sauce is hard work. I think I've got "carpal whisk syndrome." There should be a checklist for preparing for culinary school, and it should start with "get an arm like Popeye's for whisking hollandaise and mayonnaise."
(Not that we can get any help from spinach these days...dammit. I really miss spinach. I know it's safe now, but tell that to my local grocery's corporate produce department. I understand they'd rather be safe than sorry, but come on! I needs me spinich!!) (And, did you know (cue Jeopardy theme) there are four types of spinach: savoy, flat, semi-savoy, and baby? Although China is the world's biggest producer, spinach originated in Iran 2,000 years ago. It reached China about 600 C.E. and Spain 500 years later. Early settlers brought it to America.)
I digress...which is not unusual, is it?
Back to our regularly scheduled programming...oh, yeah, the mayonnaise. Me, the Chiclet, Mr. Big Stuff (who may need to be renamed, since he's redeeming himself), and the Omelet King (Big Stuff's partner who makes perfect omelets) were tasked with making mayonnaises with olive oil rather than canola, with an eye towards turning them into aiolis.
Mayonnaise with olive oil is some weird stuff. It has that very distinctive olive flavor, and it looks greenish. Mayonnaise made with canola or some other neutral oil tastes (and looks) much more like the jarred stuff we're used to eating. After whisking for what seemed 6 hours or so, none of us managed to make mayonnaise. We all had varying degrees of thickness, but nothing that remotely resembled firm. In fact, out of the entire class of 14, only Mother Hen managed to make a real, honest-to-Hellman's kind of mayo. The olive oil-based ones were just blecch. I really like the flavor of the olive oil we use at school, which is some cold pressed extra-virgin stuff that Head Chef gets specially for the school, but there was just way too much of it in the flavoring of the mayonnaise.
Then, we took our mayonnaise products and made other dressings...creamy Caesar, tartar sauce (made with real Tartars!), bleu cheese, creamy black peppercorn, and I forget the oily rest. The aioli was okay, but it was still too olive oily for my taste.
If you really get the urge to try making mayonnaise for yourself, here's the recipe we used, which makes about 1 pint; if you need more, increase the egg yolks to 3 and the oil to 24 ounces and then double the rest of the ingredients.
2 Egg yolks, pasteurized
1/2 fl oz Water
1/2 fl oz White wine vinegar
1 tsp Dry mustard
12 fl oz Vegetable oil, olive oil, or mild peanut oil
Salt as needed
Pepper as needed
1/2 fl oz Lemon juice, as needed
1. Combine the yolks, water, vinegar, and mustard in a bowl. Mix well with a balloon whip until mixture is slightly foamy.
2. Gradually add the oil in a thin stream , constantly beating with the whip, until the oil is incorporated and the oil is thick. (If your arm feels like it's falling off, then you're doing it right. When your arm falls off, it should be done)
3. Adjust the flavor with salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste
4. Refrigerate the mayonnaise immediately
After we mayoed ourselves out, we made vinaigrettes, which are a more temporary emsulsification. You still have to beat your arm senseless, but not as long as with mayo.
Chef said that you get better results if you use a balloon whisk, with the larger head and more space between the wires,as opposed to a French whisk, which is tighter and narrower. He said that the more air you can beat into the mayonnaise, the more successful you will be. But, the easiest and most successful way is to use a food processor! Julia Child might call that cheating, but I call it an arm saver. I yam, what I yam!