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In the Beginning, There Was Mayonnaise…

April 10, 2010

My recent success with cheese straws or cheese crackers or whatever it is you want to call them has emboldened me to take on another recipe I had written off as being a lost cause.

Namely, pimento cheese.

My first batch ever was horrid.

Attempt #1: Failed Homemade Mayonnaise

The first time I made it, I blamed myself for not measuring the seasonings more carefully. The second time, I measured everything carefully.

It was still horrid.

It was so horrid, in fact, that I sacrificed both batches to the garbage disposal. Considering the quantity of cheese destroyed, it should have been counted as a some type of crime against the cheese gods. I also should probably count my lucky stars I wasn’t struck with lactose intolerance for my blatant heresy.

Despite this nigthmarish experience, I decided to tackle pimento cheese again. This time, rather than trusting my own decision making skills when it comes to picking the right recipe, I consulted the Twitter hive mind. The result? Kim Severson’s recommendation that I use the recipe found in “The Gift of Southern Cooking” by Miss Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock.

First things first, though.

Miss Lewis and Chef Peacock’s recipe calls for homemade mayonnaise.

Attempt #2: Success! Homemade Mayonnaise

Huh? What? Me? Make mayonnaise? After hearing several other more accomplished cooks exclaim over the difficulty of making it properly? Yikes.

I managed to make it though. It took two tries, but I did it.

The first batch did not have a chance in Hades. I figured out pretty quickly that the fatal step was pouring the vegetable oil in too quickly.

When Miss Lewis and Chef Peacock tell you to pour the oil in “drop by drop, and then in a slow, steady stream, whisking or stirring constantly,” what they really mean is, “Pour the vegetable oil in very, very slowly. A few drops at time. Maybe a little bitty drizzle at most. Meanwhile, keep whisking like a mad person or all of this work will be for naught.”

How do I know this? Because that’s exactly what I had to do to have a successful second batch. The result of whisking the oil in until my arm was ready to fall off was a homemade mayonnaise so good that I would make it again. I really hope I’ll be able to make it for my Mom and Dranny. I think they’d really like. Plus, I’m willing to bet you they’d have a good laugh watching me make it.

Now that I’ve blathered on and on, I’m going to share the recipe with you. Next time around, I’ll share with you the pimento cheese results.

Homemade Mayonnaise (makes about 1 3/4 cups)
(from The Gift of Southern Cooking)

1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

In a bowl large enough that you won’t slosh all the ingredients out while you’re whisking like mad, stir together the cider vinegar, lemon juice, salt and dry mustard until the salt and mustard are completely dissolved.

Add the egg yolks. Beat until smooth.

Now… For the tricky part.

Pour the vegetable in very, very slowly. A few drops at time. Maybe a little bitty drizzle at most. Meanwhile, keep whisking like a mad person or all of this work will be for naught. Please note that you may need to switch arms to keep it up.

If you’re doing this last step by yourself, then do yourself a favor and either put the bowl on a nest of towels so that it doesn’t move around while you’re whisking and pouring and praying to the mayonnaise gods. Or, if you’re lucky to have one, use one of those fancy no-slip, rubber-bottomed bowls.

According to Miss Lewis and Chef Peacock, this concoction will last in the fridge, covered, for about a week.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 12, 2010 7:16 am

    I’m totally impressed. Whisk? By hand? You are a true cowgirl. Your mayo is gorgeous. I can’t wait to see what happens next. Oh, what a nail-biter this is!

  2. Susan permalink
    September 3, 2010 9:29 am

    Inspiring!! My friend Nicole ( is making a documentary on pimento cheese!

    • September 3, 2010 2:22 pm

      A pimento cheese documentary? I would call your friend a very lucky bum.


  1. Pimento Cheese and BLTs « The Kitchen Trials

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