The ease and beauty of emulsions

The Charger Bulletin

Recipe by Maggie Lyon
Staff Writer
[email protected]


Emulsions are simply either water suspended in a lipid or vice versa. In more useful terms, it’s an acid in the form of vinegar or lower pH citrus juice suspended in oil using both friction and technique. This is primarily a focus on water suspended in fats in the form of a basic vinaigrette, mayonnaise and Hollandaise.

It is helpful, though not necessary, to employ the use of some mechanized blender. Though obviously the quicker and more painless route, there is a certain satisfaction to be found in hand whisking. I would never in my right mind suggest anything short of a Robot Coupe for any serious quantity; however, these amounts are very reasonable, and the hands on nature really allows you to see exactly what’s happening at the very moment the magic of an emulsion occurs.

And before we begin our wonderful emulsion adventure, let’s take pause to realize that we’re human beings living in a constant state of entropy. Accept this, because your vinaigrette, mayonnaise or hollandaise will break. This will be on account of many reasons, any of which could be that your ingredients aren’t at the proper temperatures. Either you’ve added the oil too quickly, have expressed some general emulsion recklessness or thunderstorms or some other planetary retrograde cycle. The good news? They can easily be fixed.
We will begin with basic balsamic vinaigrette, which has become the indispensable salad companion. Traditionally, all vinaigrettes share the same ratio of 3:1, fat to vinegar. This will make just less than 1 cup of dressing, and can be stored in an airtight container in a cooler for about two weeks.

Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette

Extra Virgin Olive Oil       8 Tbs
Balsamic Vinegar               ⅔ cup
Dijon Mustard                     1 tsp
Fresh Garlic                         1 small clove
Thyme, Dried                       ½ Tbs
Salt                                          ¼ tsp
Fresh Pepper                        TT
Water as needed*

Grind the clove of garlic to a paste with the salt, then add to the bottom of a large kitchen bowl. Add in the vinegar, mustard, thyme and pepper and whisk to combine. Slowly add the oil, whisking constantly, until the vinaigrette has thickened: a sign of true emulsification is thin with water as needed.

Quick Fix: In a separate bowl, add a touch more Dijon. Slowly pour the broken vinaigrette into the bowl while whisking vigorously until combined.

*Stay tuned for next week’s recipe on Traditional Mayonnaise.