The dinners I had as a child weren’t the sort meant for refashioning into something else later in the week. A fair proportion of the meals in our family repertoire were named after countries (as in: “What’s for dinner tonight Dad?” “Greek”), and there’s not much you can do with a day-old lamb kebab, a near-empty pot of Sainsbury’s tzatziki and a slice of grilled halloumi like shoe-tongue. Dinner leftovers were thus scraped nightly and unceremoniously into the bin.
This contrasted with what I saw on the telly, where proper cooks always had bones and beans and other things to make stock and stews from, and, because I have always wanted to be one of those sorts of cooks, I take sad delight these days from meat carcasses, old root veg, and a well-stocked larder. But the most satisfying thing to be made from leftovers, I reckon, is a cold roast chicken sandwich, and the one I made last week was my best yet, lubricated as it was with my first-ever homemade mayonnaise (aka stage two of three in my French-sauce-mastering quest).
Of course, this leftovers thing has nothing at all to do with thriftiness, which I abhor. For this beast of a sandwich, I used an obscene quantity of olive oil as expensive as wine, a £2.50 loaf of Campaillou – a big-holed wholegrain sourdough – a fistful of rocket and a mound of organic chicken. This lot I seasoned with Maldon – naturally – black pepper and a good squirt of lemon juice. God does my blog deserve its subtitle.
A lot of fuss is made about making mayonnaise, but really it calls for patience more than any particular skill. And while homemade mayo is absolutely brilliant and worth a go – partly because of the marvel that is transforming runny egg yolks into a wobbling, shiny emulsion with your bare hands – I’m not so smug as to say it’s better than Hellman’s. They’re definitely not the same thing, though.
2 egg yolks
1tbsp lemon juice
300ml good olive oil
2tbsp boiling water
Firstly, nothing should be cold. Eggs and oil at room temp, a bowl rinsed with hot water (and thoroughly dried) before starting.
Now, whisk the yolks alone for a minute or two until thick and sticky, before adding the lemon, mustard and salt and whisking for a further 30 secs.
From here on it’s just a case of adding oil – drop by drop, whisking all the time and making sure every bit is incorporated before you add more – until you have a very heavy cream. It will take about 150ml of oil to get to this stage, at which point you have successfully emulsified (see, easy!) and you can give your arm a rest. Now whisk in the rest of the oil, a tbsp at a time, adding drops of lemon juice when it starts to get too stiff. When all the oil is in, beat in the boiling water to prevent curdling. Adjust s&p, mustard, lemon to taste.