I have always had a very unhealthy relationship with mayonnaise. I don’t even consider it a condiment — I consider it an ingredient. Mayo pops up on all of our menus, from the lime mayo on our fish taco at Empellón Taqueria to these chorizo-wrapped Scotch eggs (as a dip) for the tasting table at Empellón Cocina. I had always been a Hellmann’s person (Best Foods, if you’re a West Coaster), but recently one of my chefs who is from the South bought me a jar of mayonnaise to try, and it was Duke’s. I have now been officially converted for a host of reasons.
There’s the look of it. It’s like a sauce: way shinier, way sexier, and a creamier emulsion. It’s yellower, which is indicative of a higher percentage of egg yolks — usually a mark of quality. It’s a lot more acidic, because Duke’s is the only major mayonnaise company that has zero sugar added. You can use less of it to get the full thwack of flavor. And from an economics perspective, you may be interested in knowing that at some point about a decade ago all major mayonnaise jars went from 32-ounce jars to 30-ounce jars — and even raised their prices, while Duke’s jar sizes remained the same. For practicality’s sake, too, 32 ounces just make sense — great for scaling recipes that call for cups (8 ounces).
A lot of my new chefs will ask me why we don’t make our own mayonnaise. Duke’s is just one of those things I don’t think we could make any better. Now, all my restaurants just use Duke’s.
As told to Priya Krishna.
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