Most people I know stick to one end of the spectrum. You either love mayonnaise or you hate it. I know a few people in the middle…people who put a thin layer on their sandwiches or tolerate chicken salad but bristle at the thought of a wayward glob making it into their food supply.
I definitely fall into the former camp, the mayo-lovers of the world. Let me be clear, though: not all mayonnaise is created equal.
I feel like I have mentioned these things somewhere here before, but I am not sure where. Generic mayonnaise does not always pass muster. JFG (not technically generic, I guess, since JFG is, well, a brand….but trust me. It tastes more generic than any store brand.) tastes like hot garbage to me. My papaw (my mom’s dad) used to buy it and my aunt would buy it as well (in fact, I’d be willing to bet that my cousin, her daughter, still buys it. I’ll get my fact checkers on that.). Whenever I would eat sandwiches at their homes, I would eat them dry. as. a bone. No mayo, no mustard (because back then I didn’t like mustard either). I recall my cousin making some cupcakes once that had mayonnaise in them and though everyone said it was all in my head, I refused to eat them because I swore I could taste that tell-tale JFG flavor (if we’re calling it that).
My other mayo-related story comes from the home of my other grandparents, my dad’s parents. My grandmother always ate Kraft mayonnaise but my grandfather preferred Miracle Whip (gag gag gag, ohmygosh gag me now). Once my aunt was visiting and she made me a sandwich for lunch. I took one bite and I knew. She had used Miracle Whip, not my beloved Kraft mayonnaise. I refused to eat the sandwich even though my aunt insisted that there was no difference between mayonnaise and Miracle Whip. Um, yes there is. One need only read the ingredient lists of both products to see the difference. There is a big difference.
My mom only bought Kraft mayonnaise when I was growing up. In fact, that remains the only brand that she buys to this day. Unless she has changed her tune very recently, my sister will only eat Kraft. I am a little broader in my mayonnaise acceptance….I’ll eat Hellman’s (Best Foods to my friends in the West) and I’ve developed a respect for Duke’s, which I tried at Tupelo Honey Café in Asheville and is apparently a North Carolina institution. However, I don’t often buy mayonnaise….these days, I make it myself. I know every ingredient that goes into it and that makes me happy.
My early days of making my own mayo were torrid, wrought with endless whisking and broken emulsions. This was when I learned that my husband was not the right person to stand in one spot whisking endlessly. It made him crazy. But I saw Nicolas Cage (or at least I think it was Nicolas Cage) make mayonnaise with Martha Stewart using an immersion blender. Life. Changed. Now not only did my mayo look like real mayo and not like loose slightly mayo-like substances, I could customize it was whatever oil I wanted, whatever acid I wanted (vinegar? Lemon juice? Lime juice? A combination?), whatever emulsifier I wanted (dijon mustard? Yellow? Spicy brown?). I could add pepper if I wanted (yes, please). I promise you, if you use a lot of mayonnaise, it’s worth it to buy an immersion blender just for this use, though they’re quite handy for blending soups and sauces and even smoothies as long as there’s nothing frozen involved (don’t learn that one the hard way). And if you’re worried about raw eggs (I’m not because I buy eggs from people I trust and then I use my mayo up quickly), you can buy pasteurized eggs at Publix. Problem solved.
As far as dressing goes, I feel like creamy dressings get laughed at a little by the food community because they for some reason don’t seem as “serious” as vinaigrettes, the gold standard of salad dressings. Seriously, though. Who doesn’t love a great blue cheese dressing (well, among blue cheese lovers, anyway) or a delicious ranch (or buttermilk, which is what it was commonly called when I first started eating salad some twenty-something years ago)? I’ve been making my own buttermilk ranch using Pioneer Woman’s recipe for several years now, though I have long ceased to measure anything so I guess I don’t really follow a recipe any more. A couple of months ago I decided to throw a whole avocado in and….life changed again. People, I can’t stop eating this stuff. On salad. On chopped vegetables. On pretzels. Off a spoon (not really. But really.). Trust me-make it and see.
5 minPrep Time:
5 minTotal Time:
- 1 Large egg
- 1 teaspoon mustard (dijon is traditional, but you can also use yellow or spicy brown)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, lemon juice, or lime juice (or a combination)
- freshly ground pepper (optional)
- 250ml oil (a neutral oil like grapeseed-my choice, canola, or safflower is traditionally used, but you can use olive oil if you don't mind the strong flavor)
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup buttermilk (to achieve the thickness you prefer)
- 1 avocado (seeded and scooped)
- 1 green onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 handful fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- To make the mayonnaise: Break the egg into a pint-sized Mason jar (if you don't have one, you can do this in a tall drinking glass that's wide enough to fit your blender into). Add the mustard, salt, lemon or lime juice or vinegar, and pepper (if using). Pour the oil over. Stick the immersion blender into the jar, making sure that it completely covers the egg. Turn the blender on the top speed. Hold it in the bottom of the jar until you see the mixture begin to emulsify, then SLOWLY move it to the top of the mixture. You may have to move the blender up and down a few times to fully incorporate the oil and reach the thickness that you want. Lid the jar or scrape the mixture into a storage container. Refrigerate and use within a week.
- To make the green goddess dressing: Place all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor. I don't chop anything because my blender will do it for me, but if your blender or processor doesn't always get things smooth you may want to pre-chop the green onion, garlic, and parsley. Blend at high speed until desired texture is achieved. I start with the smallest amount of buttermilk and add more if necessary. Adjust seasonings. Scrape into a storage container (I use a Mason jar) and refrigerate. It will keep for 3-4 days, though a brownish liquid will start to accumulate from the oxidation of the avocado. This is normal; just stir it back in.