The other day I was reading through one of the fifty thousand cookbooks I got for my last birthday (since changing my way of eating, I now read cookbooks the way other people read novels), and came across a recipe for bacon mayonnaise. Not ‘Baconnaise’, that nightmare Frankenfood, that artificially-flavored pretender to the mayonnaise throne that I wouldn’t even feed to my fish. Have you seen their ingredient list? Nyet! Never! Not in this house! Gen-yoo-wine Bacon Mayonnaise made from luscious bacon fat is what I’m talking about here. After all, what could be better suited to bacon mayonnaisehood than real bacon fat? Nothing, says I, and made some just to prove it.
It…is…awesome. And I mean that in the original sense of the word. I am filled with awe (and with bacon).
You may be wondering where on earth I would find a recipe for mayonnaise made with bacon fat. What madness, what lunacy, would cause one to believe bacon fat was a smart thing to eat, and create a recipe encouraging just that? After all, even when we do eat bacon, we strain off all that nasty grease and even pat down the bacon with paper towels to soak up the offending stuff. Blech, right? Wrong! Fat is delicious, nutritious, and is absolutely required by the body for optimal health and functioning. Haven’t you heard? Lipophobia (fear of dietary fat) is a thing of the past; fat is once again being celebrated and recognized for the important foodstuff it is.
To this end, the cookbook FAT: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient by Jennifer McLagan was written. A glorious, gorgeous cookbook filled to bursting with delectable recipes and sexy photos of food prepared with long-neglected animal fats. It’s a book plump with fat-lore and fat-wisdom. It’s not just a cookbook; it’s a manual for relearning what our grandmothers knew: Fat is good for you!
Since going Paleo/Primal, I have had to overcome my own deep-seated lipophobia. Making mayonnaise from bacon fat was such a terrifying idea that I had to try it. I’m glad I did — it tastes amazing (like bacon, surprise!), and it’s a hell of a wondrous thing to be standing in my kitchen with a smear of bacon mayonnaise on an Oopsie Roll and thinking, “This is health food.” (If you don’t believe fat is health food, you have some reading to do!)(And here is an excellent post about fat and the body by the very intelligent Anastasia over at PrimalMedEd.com.)
Bacon mayo, once refrigerated, takes on a different texture from regular mayo due to the temperature at which saturated fats solidify. It’s more like whipped cream cheese — a perfect spread. Try making a BLT with bacon mayo…oh yum!
It goes without saying that the bacon you eat should be organic, or at least nitrite- and nitrate-free. Nitrates are nasty chemicals that wreak biological havoc in the body; avoid them. A lower sugar bacon is preferable, though harder to find; sugar helps preserve bacon, especially where nitrates and other chemical preservatives aren’t used. Use your judgment regarding the sugar content for your own diet. US Wellness Meats carries a compassionate-certified, sugar-free bacon, though it’s a different taste than commercial bacon.
Bacon Mayonnaise, based on a recipe by Jennifer McLagan
Jennifer uses a blender or food processor to make her mayo; I do mine by hand because I think it comes out creamier and more mayo-like. You can certainly do it her way if you prefer. Add all the ingredients to the processor except the fat. Blend. While the machine is running, very very very slowwwwly add the fat in a steady stream until the mixture emulsifies, about 2 minutes. If it gets too thick to blend before all the fat is added, add a teaspoon of boiling water to thin it. Shazam, bacon mayonnaise.
- 1 egg yolk, room temperature
- 3/4 tsp dijon or yellow mustard, or 1/8 tsp dried mustard
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice or vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup nitrate-free bacon fat, warmed so that it can be poured, but NOT hot
For making bacon mayo by hand (about a ten minute process), I used the same method as with my olive/walnut oil mayonnaise:
If your egg is cold, you can put it in a bowl of warm water for a half hour or so to bring it to room temp.
Place the egg yolk in a medium size mixing bowl (you want room to stir). With a spoon or wire whisk, break the yolk and beat til fairly smooth and creamy. Don’t try to add air to the mix. Add salt and mix.
Settle in a chair with your bowl, whisk, and your cup of oil at hand; handmade mayo takes time, and watching it happen can be a lovely and relaxing experience (well, maybe once you get it down pat). All the blender mayos I’ve tested have been inferior and loose (I suspect this is also due to recipes calling for the egg white along with the yolk). Time and hand mixing make a gorgeous mayonnaise.
Add ONE SINGLE DROP of fat and mix until you can’t see the fat anymore. Repeat, mix; repeat, mix, slowly, taking your time. The yolk will start to thicken around the fat within a minute or so.
After you do this about ten times, you can start adding the fat in larger amounts — about a half-teaspoon to teaspoon at a time.
After about 1/3 of the fat has been mixed in, add the lemon juice or vinegar and the mustard, mix thoroughly, and then proceed with adding the fat. You can add larger and larger amounts now, watching to see how the mayo accepts it. (You will know if you add too much at once, trust me! It will just float around on top.)
By the time half the fat is in, it looks like mayo — if you get halfway through your fat and you just have soup, it’s not emulsifying. If it looks more like the way oil drops look suspended in Italian salad dressing, it’s not happening. Start over! It took me a few tries to get the first fat drops small enough to properly start the emulsion.
If your mayo gets too stiff to work at this point, add more juice/vinegar by drops (little drops!).
Now taste your mayo, and adjust the salt and mustard to taste (don’t re-dip the tasting spoon; always use clean utensils for raw food that will be stored). Transfer to a small jar or covered bowl. Mayo will keep in the fridge for about a week. Happy Eating!
Tips from the Master
Julia Child has some excellent tips for mayonnaise making in Mastering the Art of French Cooking:
Mayonnaise is easiest to make when all ingredients are at normal room temperature. Warm the mixing bowl in hot water to take the chill off the egg yolks. Heat the oil to tepid if it is cold.
Egg Yolks: Always beat the egg yolks for a minute or two before adding anything to them. As soon as they are thick and sticky, they are ready to absorb the oil.
Adding the Oil: The oil must be added very slowly at first, in droplets, until the emulsion process begins and the sauce thickens into a heavy cream. After this, the oil may be incorporated more rapidly.
Proportions: The maximum amount of oil one U.S. Large egg yolk will absorb is 6 ounces or 3/4 cup. When this maximum is exceeded, the binding properties of the egg yolks break down, and the sauce thins out or curdles. If you have never made made mayonnaise before, it is safest not to exceed 1/2 cup of oil per egg yolk.
Remedy for turned mayonnaise: You will never have trouble with freshly made mayonnaise if you have beaten the egg yolks thoroughly in a warmed bowl before adding the oil, if the oil has been added in droplets until the sauce has commenced to thicken, and if you have not exceeded the maximum proportions of 3/4 cup of oil per egg yolk. A mayonnaise has turned when it refuses to thicken, or, in a finished mayonnaise, when the oil releases itself from suspension and the sauce curdles. In either case, the remedy is simple. Warm a mixing bowl in hot water. Dry it. Add 1 teaspoon of prepared mustard and 1 teaspoon of sauce. Beat with a wire whip for several seconds unil they cream and thicken together. Beat in the rest of the sauce by teaspoons, thickening each addition before adding the next. This always works. Just be sure you add the turned sauce a little bit at a time, particularly at first.
Refrigeration: After several days under refrigeration, mayonnaise has a tendency to thin out, especially if it is stirred before it comes to room temperature. If it does turn, bring it back using the preceding system.