I'm a liar, and a cheat.
I've been lying to my Miracle Whip, promising it was the only spread for me. But — and please don't spread this around — I've been having a love affair with Hellman's real mayonnaise for years.
I am shameless. I keep both in the same refrigerator, though never close enough to run into each other. The Miracle Whip sits in the door, while the mayo hides in the rear of the fridge above the crisper. I separate them not only out of kindness, but as a practical measure; the jars are almost identical — blue cap, white-ish contents, blue/red/yellow label — which I'm sure is no coincidence. (Which came first? Hellman's, in 1912; MW followed along in 1933.)
Mayonnaise is a sauce made by emulsifying egg yolks, oil, and lemon juice or vinegar — plus, occasionally, mustard, salt and pepper. It's one of the foundations of French cooking, forming the basis for a dozen or more sauces (remoulade, maltaise, andalouse, etc.) when additional ingredients are incorporated.
According to Larousse Gastronomique, there are several theories about how mayonnaise got its name, but here's my favorite: it was named for the Duke of Richelieu, who captured Port Mahon on the island of Minorca in 1756. Either the duke or his chef created the sauce, and named it mahonnaise.
Homemade anything tastes better than storebought, and the same is true of mayo. However, prepared mayonnaise has two major advantages. First, it's made with pasteurized eggs, which eliminates the risk of salmonella. Second, store-bought will keep in the fridge for 6 months after the jar is opened; homemade will last for 3 days, tops.
Mayonnaise is more than a slather; try it the next time you're making dips, crab cakes, baked chicken, or cake. Without mayo, there would be no tofu egg salad, no California rolls, and no point in driving up to Maine just for the amazing lobster rolls at Red's Eats in Wiscasset.
Quick and easy, made with prepared mayonnaise. Serve with steamed new potatoes, cubes of bread, asparagus, or endive leaves. Serves 6-8.
1-1/2 cups mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp anchovy paste, or 2 anchovy fillets, minced
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, and stir well. Cover and refrigerate for 1-4 hours, to allow flavors to combine.
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