Bless your little heart if you ask a Southerner for their opinion on what mayonnaise should grace a tomato sandwich. You’ll get an earful. Most people place themselves squarely in either the Hellmann’s or Duke’s camps. To hear people tell it, it seems likely that families have split over the gloppy white spread they schmear on their sandwich.
To that end, pity the soul who suggests Miracle Whip as the proper pairing to sun-ripened tomato slices pressed between two slabs of white bread. Then and only then will the fans of Hellmann’s and Duke’s (who until this moment had been on the verge of throwing punches) rush together in a rare moment of solidarity to decry the absurdity of even introducing Miracle Whip into this debate. Holding to the role of Switzerland, I’ll only say that Miracle Whip markets itself as a “salad dressing spread.” Draw your own conclusions as to whether it deserves to be on the table or, for that matter, your tomato sandwich.
Finding such arguments distasteful when I’m wiping tomato juice off my chin, I prefer to skip the discourse all together and make my mayonnaise. It doesn’t last as long as the stuff you’ll find in jars on the grocery store shelf, but I’m pretty sure the final product would cause those on all sides of the mayonnaise debate to fall silent (and it’s not just because their mouths would be full).
In its simplest form one only needs a few basic pantry ingredients and some elbow grease to make mayonnaise.* The addition of fresh herbs will elevate it from good to great however. While tempting from a health perspective to use olive oil instead of vegetable oil, I recommend using vegetable oil or a blend of vegetable oil and olive oil instead. Olive oil has a distinct flavor and I find it overwhelms all other flavors in the mayonnaise when used alone.
Homemade mayonnaise will keep for a week in the refrigerator although I’d be surprised if it lasted that long. I smear it on hard-boiled eggs, use it as a dip for fries, and, of course, at this time of year, pair it with the ripest tomatoes I can find.
Disclaimer: I’m fully aware that I’m opening up another debate by making this tomato sandwich on a baguette. I typically reach for two slices of white bread when making a tomato sandwich, but the siren call of this baguette in my kitchen had me putting on the ritz. Forgive me for gilding the lily.
*Yes, homemade mayonnaise can be made in a blender or food processor, but a little whisking by hand is the perfect way to work up an appetite and alleviates the guilt when you go for an extra-large helping.
Homemade Mayonnaise – Printer Friendly Recipe
1 egg yolk*
2 teaspoons white wine or champagne vinegar
½ teaspoon Dijon or whole grain mustard
1 cup vegetable or canola oil or a combination of vegetable/olive oil
Salt, to taste
Ground white pepper, to taste
Optional: 1 tablespoon minced fresh herbs (I used dill in my mayo)
Whisk together the egg yolk, white wine vinegar, and Dijon mustard in a small bowl. Slowly add the olive oil in droplets to the egg yolk mixture while whisking constantly. As the sauce begins to thicken, you can add the oil more rapidly. Add as much oil as you can, constantly whisking, until you reach your desired thickness. Season to taste with salt and ground white pepper. Whisk in the fresh herbs if using. Refrigerate for up to one week.
*Consuming raw eggs can be dangerous due to the slight risk of salmonella or other food-borne illness. If concerned about this risk, I recommend using shell eggs that have been treated to destroy salmonella through pasteurization or another approved method.