Saturday, February 7, 2009


There are two types of this people in the world: those who are willing to whip up a batch of home made mayonnaise, and those who despair of the task. Each party heaps vituperative contempt upon the other.

Sometimes those two types of people reside in one body, and arm wrestle the pestle, back and forth. Which, surely, only ends up creating a silkier mayonnaise.

Yes, it's mayonnaise wrestle-mania. But I think the first question I have to address is, why do it, at all, why the bother the fuss and the messed up whisk, when Best Foods taste so darn good? Best Foods is a mouthful of heaven! Who needs a dollop of Dijon or a neurotic fear of tainted egg yolk, when there's magic in every (now plastic) container of the stuff?

In a word: garlic.
The patron saint of home cooks everywhere, St. Julia Child recommends mashing a number of garlic cloves, well, and pounding them into a milk or vinegar drenched then squeezed slice of hearty white bread. I prefer blanching the garlic cloves, in their skin, which seems to remove the bitter after taste. And if the bitter aftertaste remains, I just incorporate handfuls of basil.
I do think this pounding of the garlic into the bread with a pestle just about sums up the physical pleasure of the task. No sniping at your husband; no shouting at the kids; just a rhythmic pounding. Once it's a sticky, fully incorporated paste, add the afore mentioned scandal-inducing egg yolk. Pound away some more (feel the burn). Add salt, and then whisk, while slowly slowly slowly adding excellent olive oil, drip by mind-numbing drip.

Feeling wild? Add a squeeze of lemon.
Too thick? A little hot water.

Serve it on the side of shrimp, salmon, or paella and watch it disappear. Incorporate it into the the filling of your deviled eggs. Leftovers? Wrap it around your chicken salad. Trust me, you'll thank me for this.


  1. There's no such thing as too much garlic!

  2. And here's an easier way to do an aioli. Mince your garlic (lots or a little), toss in a tablespoon or so of lemon juice, a similar spoonful of Dijon mustard, salt, ground white pepper and your egg yolk. Now, get out your hand mixer and start whipping. Drizzle in your oil (figure about a cup or so) ve-e-e-e-ry slowly at first, then faster as the mayonnaise thickens, until you have mayonnaise or in this case aioli.

    If I had to depend on the pestle, it would so not be happening in my house.