The idea of homade mayonnaise makes a lot of us nervous, probably because we've read so many recipes that describe tediously adding oil drop by drop, insist the eggs and oil be at exacly a certain temperature, and warn us of dire consequences if any steps are missed or any rules broken. If you have a blender, a batch of Basic Mayonnaise will take you about a minute, and even if you don't have a blender, you can make a cup or two in about five minutes. One caveat: If you're making a mayonnaise, such as aioli, with extra-virgin olive oil, you'll have to make it by hand, usung a wooden spoon, because hard beating in an electric mixer or even with a hand whisk turns the oil bitter.
All of this of course brings us to the question, always asked in cooking classes, of wheather it is safe to eat raw egg yolks. It depends. The latest statistics say that one in twenty thousand egg youlks may be contaminated. So if you're using 2 yolks for four servings of mayonnaise, the chances of making your guests sick is very small, but if you're cooking for a thousand, the chances increase because you're using more yolks and it only takes one bad one to make everyone sick.
For the most part, I live dangerously and eat and serve mayonnaise made with raw yolks. But if I'm cooking for a large crowd, I cook the yolks, but not to the point where they curdle, by combining them with 1/2 tablespoon of water per egg yolk and whisking them in a bowl over a pot of boiling water until they become airy and start to thicken, at about 180F, which is more than hot enough to kill salmonella bacteria, I then whisk the oil into the hot yolks, off the heat.
makes 1 1/2 cups
2 eggs yolks
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice, or 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, or more to tasts
1 1/3 canola or safflower oil
Combine the egg yolks, dijon mustard, and lemon juice in a blender or food processor. If you're using a blender, turn it on low. If you are using a food processor, just turn it on. Pour the canola or safflower oil in a thin steady stream through the hole in the blender or food processor lid. When you have added all the oil, the mayonnaise should be very thick. Season the mayonnaise to taste with salt and pepper, and if needed, more lemon juice. If while you are adding oil the mayonnaise becomes so stiff that it won't move around in the blender or food processor, add a tablespoon or so of water, a bit at a time, to keep the mayonnaise at the consistency you like.