Magical mayo

Although it may be tempting to purchase pre-made substitutes at the supermarket, a homemade alternative can be crafted and added to to make secret sauce and other tasty variations.

When it comes to condiments, I’m on Team Mayo! I know that there are folks who absolutely despise the flavor of mayonnaise, and others who can’t seem to live without it. For some reason, it seems that almost everything about mayonnaise — from its origin story to using it in desserts — sparks a heated debate.

One origin story maintains that in 1756, French forces under the command of Duke de Richelieu laid siege to Port Mahon on the Mediterranean island of Minorca, now a part of Spain. This was the first European battle of the Seven Years’ War. The Duke’s chef couldn’t find cream to create a sauce, so he combined an egg and oil and called it “mahonnaise” in honor of Port Mahon. Other sources claim that the chef learned the recipe from the residents of the island.

Mayonnaise is basically an emulsion of neutral-flavored oil like canola combined with an egg yolk, vinegar and/or lemon juice, and sometimes mustard for flavor and to help the emulsion stay blended.

Some French chefs feel that mayonnaise is from a recipe called bayonnaise after Bayonne, a town famous across Europe for its succulent hams. Others suggest the name came from “manier,” meaning “to handle,” or “moyeu,” an old French word for yolk.

In the 1920s, a famous Spanish chef published a pamphlet claiming that the so-called French mayonnaise was really based on the Spanish salsa mahonesa recipe.

While Spanish chefs may have created mayonnaise, the French increased its popularity by incorporating it into numerous early 19th century recipes, which spread from Europe to America.

Mayonnaise has become an integral part of American food culture from sea to shining sea. Chefs and home cooks add mayo into all kinds of composed salads, fillings, spreads and dressings, and incorporate it outside and inside sandwiches and baked goods.

You can add this creamy ingredient to both sweet and savory recipes without imparting any detectable mayo taste. Try these unique ways to use mayonnaise.

Creamy Frosting: Stir in a spoonful of mayonnaise to your frosting recipe. It will remain creamy even after refrigeration.

Memorable Mashed Potatoes: Use mayonnaise to increase the creaminess and flavor of mashed potatoes. For 1 1/2 pounds of mashed potatoes, stir in 1/2 cup of shredded Cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup mayonnaise and 1 teaspoon each of powdered garlic, salt and ground black pepper.

Egg Wash Replacement: You can use mayo anywhere you’d use an egg wash. Brush it on top of bread or pastry dough before baking, or put it on meats or seafood before breading, or on shrimp before coating with coconut.

Crispier Fruit Crisps: Stir together a cup of flour and 3/4 cup of sugar with a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Stir in 1/2 cup of mayo, then use the mixture as a topping for your favorite fruit crisp recipe.

If you’ve never tried making your own mayonnaise, this delicious recipe is the perfect introduction!

HOMEMADE MAYONNAISE

Mayonnaise can be made by hand with a whisk or a fork, or with the aid of an electric mixer or blender on low speed.

1 teaspoon large egg yolk, room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon salt plus more to taste

3/4 cup canola oil, divided

1. Combine egg yolk, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard and 1/2 teaspoon salt in medium bowl. Use a hand whisk to combine until blended and bright yellow, about 30 seconds.

2. Using 1/4 teaspoon measure and whisking constantly, add 1/4 cup oil to yolk mixture, a few drops at a time, about 4 minutes. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup oil in very slow thin stream, whisking constantly, until mayonnaise is thick, about 8 minutes (mayonnaise will be lighter in color). Cover and chill. Can be made up to 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Makes about 3/4 cup.

SECRET SAUCE

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 1/2 teaspoons spicy pickle juice

1 1/2 teaspoons ketchup

1 teaspoon yellow mustard

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl until well-blended. Cover and chill. Can be made up to 2-days ahead. Keep chilled. Makes 1/4 cup.

MAYO VARIATIONS

DIJON MAYO: 3/4 cup mayo, 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill.

CHIVE & HERB MAYO: 3/4 cup mayo, 1/3 cup fresh snipped chives, 2 1/2 tablespoons chopped herbs (parsley, rosemary, thyme, etc.), 2 small minced garlic cloves and ground black pepper, to taste.

SRIRACHA MAYO: 3/4 cup mayo, 3 tablespoons Sriracha sauce, and salt and pepper, to taste.

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