Egg mayo, or egg mayonnaise, rarely seen in the United States, is revered in France, where there is even a company to “save” the dish: the Association for the Protection of Egg Mayonnaise. At Bistrot Paul Bert, one of my favorites, egg mayo was the first starter out of the kitchen when the restaurant reopened after it closed during the pandemic, and Tony Le Voltaire is guarding egg mayo on the menu at 0.9 euros, or about $ 1.07. A supermarket baguette can cost more.
With only two elements, the dish is striking in its simplicity. But like so many simple dishes, there are decisions to be made along the way. For the eggs, Priscilla starts cooking by covering them with water. Bring the water to a boil, lower the heat so that it maintains a strong simmer and cook the eggs for seven minutes, finishing with firm yolks and a little jammy in the center. You might want to cook your eggs a little less or a little more, but no matter how you cook them, treat yourself to a little fun: Cracking the Shells à la Priscilla. After draining the cooked eggs, she puts them back in the pan and slides, slides and shakes the pan to crack the shells. You can pat your eggs against the counter to peel them, but it’s not as fun.
And then there is the mayonnaise. Could you take your favorite store-bought brand, season it heavily, and lighten it up a bit for this dish? Sure you could, but hopefully at least once you don’t, put the blender down on the counter, give five minutes, and make Priscilla’s mayonnaise. Mayonnaise, basically egg and oil, has always seemed like a miracle of science to me, but it really is an exercise in restraint. To get a velvety mayonnaise, you whip an egg – Priscilla uses a whole egg rather than a simple yolk (more typical) – with something sour (here lemon juice and white wine vinegar), season it with salt and Dijon mustard then regularly pour the oil by going slowly (the part retained), watching and scraping halfway and stopping as soon as the oil is incorporated. No matter how many times I make mayonnaise, I still feel like a wizard.
When you’re ready to assemble this classic, divide the eggs in half and domed them up, which is classic, or down, which is pretty too, then check the mayonnaise, first for l seasoning, then for consistency. In order for it to slide off the spoon into a stable ribbon and cover the egg smoothly and generously, you will probably need to thin it out a bit. Just add drops of hot water (or lemon juice). Pour the mayonnaise over the eggs and serve them perfectly plain or choose a few toppings: perhaps anchovy fillets or roasted red pepper strips; maybe a pinch of chopped chives; maybe fried capers.
Place the eggs next to a salad, for them to make an entree on their own, or add them to your serving platter. various hors d’oeuvres. If you end up loving egg mayo – Priscilla counts it among her desert island dishes – so maybe we can start our own company.