“Like Chrissie making tartar sauce.”
Many years ago, our family friend and The Kid’s brother-figure Chef Chrissie arrived from Chicago for a visit. Having, at one time lived in the North Carolina for many years, he misses our beloved Southern cuisine. So when he visits, our meals are a mix of the two of us cooking under his kitchen catechism and delicious examples of local homestyle cooking from various eateries.
On his first night in town, we decided to go to a local fish restaurant and get fried fish with all the fixings.
Before we left to pick up dinner, he asked if he could get anything together while we were gone. I asked him to put together some tartar sauce.
When we arrived with the ingredients of a good old Southern fish fry, there was a bowl of gorgeous tartar sauce waiting.
One thing about Chrissie: he was not raised by my mother. It was drummed into my head, and eventually The Kid’s head, was that when in our kitchen, “Clean up as you go along.”
Everything is washed, wiped, cleaned and put away as you cook. It’s a really smart way to work because when you have a finished dish or meal, the kitchen is 90% clean.
But it’s not how our friend — and my culinary sensei — works. He eventually cleans up after himself, but “later.”
“Later” makes me twitchy. I cannot sit down to eat knowing my kitchen is an unholy, disturbing mess. I just can’t.
So, I set about cleaning up as The Kid set the table and set out the food.
There were eggs and oil out, but no jar of Hellmann’s.
So, I asked, what the what?
Turns out, my friend went all cheffy up on it, and made the mayonnaise that was the base of the tartar sauce.
It’s become what I think the kids today call a meme.
Making mayonnaise for the tartar sauce means textbook; it means going all the way with no shortcuts.
It means going all the way.
This week I decided to go all Chrissie on you, Gentle Reader, and make homemade mayonnaise by hand.
This brings me to emulsion.
An emulsion is a usually creamy mixture of two liquids that normally don’t mix — like mayonnaise. Or Hollandaise. Or ice cream. And believe it or not, milk is an emulsion.
So, I gathered the tools I’d need: a bowl, a whisk, and a squeeze bottle.
The squeeze bottle gives you the ability to add the oil almost drop by drop, which is crucial to create the initial emulsion.
I got to work.
I whisked the egg yolks, mustard and lemon juice.
Then drop by drop, I added the oil and whisked like a whisk monkey on six double espressos.
And whisked. And whisked. And whisked.
And stopped and wiped my forehead and shook my aching whisk arm.
Then whisked. And whisked. And whisked.
Then stopped and wiped my brow and shook my arm.
And repeated until I had a bowl of creamy mayo.
Then I whisked in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and seasoned it.
I called my expensively culinary-trained Kid and crowed about my gorgeous mayo.
And my child said, “I never do it by hand anymore. I use my immersion blender and a taller narrow bowl. Takes a few minutes and never fails.”
So, if you guys have the “guns,” or want to build some guns, do it the ultimate old school way with a whisk.
And if you just want some mayo that comes out right every time and won’t make you reach for a heating pad or ibuprofen, do it the Kid’s way.
Thanks for your time.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 cup neutral oil, like grape seed or canola
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Juice of half a lemon
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
Whisk or blend yolks, mustard, and lemon juice. Slowly, drop by drop, add the oil while constantly blending or whisking. The mixture should be thoroughly homogenized and get thicker as more air is added.
When all the oil is mixed in, whisk in the olive oil and season. You should taste the salt, but it shouldn’t be salty. Start with a little, taste, and add more as needed.
Place in an airtight container and refrigerate. Use within a couple of days.
Makes about a cup and a half.
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