Thursday, February 7, 2013

Conquer De Mayo!

About four weeks ago, my Garde Manger class learned how to make mayonnaise.  By hand.  It seemed really simple.  Egg yolks, oil, serious agitation...and voila!  Mayonnaise.

Then, the instructor let us have a crack at it.  Everyone was able to make a nice, creamy mayonnaise on their first try.

Except yours truly.

My first batch thickened a little before turning this horrific shade of alien green.  Maybe it was the olive oil, maybe it was a chemical reaction with the metal bowl.  Who knows?  It never set up.

Then, on tries #2 and #3, I added the oil too quickly at the beginning.  My mayo did not set up, no matter how much I whisked it.

On attempt #4, the emulsification process got off to a great start, before I accidentally dripped too much oil in.  It then broke (curdled).

By that time, class was nearly over.  My wrists were sore, and I was seriously disheartened.  After I'd had lunch, some of my energy, vigor, and desire to conquer the damn mayonnaise returned, and I tried to make the condiment two more times...failing both times...before giving it up completely.

Fast-forward to a bunch of weeks later.  As a final project, our instructor is having us set up a mini-buffet in the cafeteria where we can showcase our charcuterie work.  Another student and I decide to do BLT canapes...which will give me the chance to finally conquer the demon of making mayonnaise by hand.

That was yesterday.  I failed five out of six tries, and the one success was only because I had help from the instructor.  But, I was finally able to ascertain my problem.  While I'm normally very good at multitasking, I simply could not do it in this case.  Trying to vigorously whisk a bowl of eggs, while adding oil droplets, while keeping the bowl from spinning off the table was just more than I could do.  I even tried using a stand mixer, which did provide a thick liquidy mayo, but not exactly the consistency I was looking for.

With a few hours at my disposal yesterday between classes, I did some research on Youtube.  There, I came across a guy using his immersion blender to make mayo.  Genius!  That would solve one problem for me, the constant agitation.  But, how to ensure I could add the oil very gradually?  An eyedropper or a small turkey baster, of course.

Boy howdy, I couldn't wait to get home.

I started off with the blade attachment...but it wasn't providing the spin I needed for emulsification.  So, I switched to the whisk...and bingo!  I didn't even do the eyedropper thing, because I found I was fairly able to concentrate on adding oil more since my agitation woes had been assuaged.  Pretty soon, I was getting this:

Mayonnaise....beautiful mayo.  Seasoned with a touch of spicy brown mustard.

I was ecstatic!  And you know how it is in this advanced day and age, I posted it right to my Facebook page.  (However, I did not Tweet it, nor did I Pin it.)

Okay, so I cheated a little with the stick blender.  However, it is the wise woman that knows her weaknesses and how to compensate for them.  And I will now share my wisdoms with you:

1. Agitation is key.  The oil and egg particles HAVE to emulsify.  If you've got strong wrists, go for manual.  Otherwise, an immersion blender or mixer works great.

2. If you think you've added to much oil, and the mixture is not thickening up, add another egg.  It's for a proportional science-y reason that I won't explain here.

3. Keep stirring.  When you think you may have a sudden onset of carpal tunnel syndrome, you're nearly there.

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