Whereas flavored butters can be made in food processors, the closer mayonnaise gets to a machine the worse it is. A rewarding cooking and tasting experience is to make mayonnaise in a mortar or in a bowl by hand and then compare it with mayonnaises made in an electric mixer, a food processor, and a blender. Each mayonnaise tastes, feels, looks different. The hand-whisked sauce will be silkier, smoother, lighter, more delicate in taste, and will sit easier in the stomach as well.
Use a light, high-quality olive oil, and have all the ingredients at room temperature. Italian green extra virgin olive oil makes a good mayonnaise, but one that will usually be overpowering. Use it only with strongly flavored foods, such as roasted bell peppers or cold peppered steak.
Put the yolks, salt, pepper, and half the lemon juice in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the oil very slowly at first, increasing the flow at the end. If the mayonnaise gets too thick to beat, add droplets of water and continue adding the oil. (The amount of oil will depend on the consistency of mayonnaise desired.) Whisk in some or all of the remaining lemon juice, depending on how much lemon taste you want, and then season the mayonnaise.
© 2002 Jeremiah Tower. All rights reserved.