Thursday, December 13, 2007

Hold The Mayo

Here's a fun weekday riddle for you: If all of the ingredients in mayonnaise are yellow, then why is it white? The simple answer is that mayonnaise is not actually white, it's yellow. I know, I know, go ahead, run to your fridge and double check the jar. It probably looks pretty white, huh? That's because what you're looking at is a jar full of lies. That's right. Lies. What you buy at the store in the jar is not proper mayonnaise, because real mayonnaise only has three ingredients: egg yolks, lemon juice, and oil. What you buy at the grocery store has upwards of 7 ingredients, including whole eggs, sugar and preservatives. Obviously, some of these are necessary evils in the name of longevity, but jarred mayo has completely skewed our palate.

Mayonnaise is not the white, claggy, slightly sweet confection most of us are used to spreading on bread. It's actually yellow, slightly tart and much more fluid in consistency than jarred mayo, which is fattened up in texture with egg whites. I must say that I do consider myself a bit of a mayonnaise snob, especially around the holidays. In Spain, like in many parts of Italy, it is traditional to eat seafood around Christmas (usually a seafood soup for us) and New Year's Eve. In my family it's become traditional to serve the biggest, fattest shrimp we can find. They're simply prepared, usually just grilled, shell and head on, seasoned with sea salt, and always served with mayonnaise as a dipping condiment. The mayonnaise is always homemade, served in generous portions in crystal bowls scattered around the table.

To those out there that hate mayonnaise and are terribly frightened by this story, I say you must try real homemade mayonnaise. It's a completely different flavor profile from what you're used to getting from mayonnaise. I'm not asking you to whip up a batch and bust out a spoon, in fact, you can use it to make this excellent chicken sandwich that I made late one night with fresh mayonnaise and some leftover chicken. It's simple and delicious, and a great intro to mayo. Look down below for my mayonnaise recipe, and how to use it to make this sandwich:

Mayonnaise (makes about 1 cup)

2 egg yolks
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
olive oil (not extra virgin) or your favorite light oil

1. Combine egg yolks, lemon juice and salt in a large bowl using a whisk.

2. Slowly stream in the oil, about a teaspoon at a time, while briskly whisking the mixture. Continue streaming until you reach your desired consistency and flavor. Enjoy!

**TIP: For an even thicker consistency, you can use a hand or immersion blender instead of a whisk, and a taller thinner container instead of a large bowl. This will whip more air into the mixture, creating a texture similar to jarred mayonnaise.

Chicken Sandwich with Fresh Mayonnaise

1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, diced (I used the chicken leftover from yesterday's soup)
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 pieces sliced bread
1 cup iceberg lettuce, shredded

1. Butter both sides of the bread and set aside.

2. In a bowl, combine the chicken, mayonnaise and salt and pepper to taste.

3. Evenly spread the chicken on the buttered side of a bread slice. Add extra salt and pepper if necessary and top with lettuce and remaining slice of bread (butter side down). Cut in half an enjoy!

DID YOU KNOW...that an aioli is just mayonnaise made with olive oil and garlic? Just add garlic to your mixture before streaming in the oil, and make sure the oil is virgin or extra virgin olive oil. You can even use that as your base for a chipotle, wasabi or sun-dried tomato aioli.


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