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It's easy to make mayonnaise that makes you swoon

Summer side salads that skip the mayonnaise are the stuff of my latest food-section column.

But instead of discouraging the use of mayonnaise, which I adore, I upheld strategically serving mayonnaise-dressed dishes a few times each summer. More often than that, and they’re no longer recipes to be savored but rather endured as de rigueur accompaniments to burgers, hot dogs and other grilled fare. Break out the commercially prepared potato and macaroni salads, and you can be pretty certain your spread will fade into the backdrop of every other summer soiree that relies on mass-produced American specialties.

I could never conscience serving a prefab potato or macaroni salad, particularly when I’m known for the former, which I elevated even further last summer with homemade mayonnaise. Despite my unwavering loyalty to Best Foods, I was cooking for a crowd who favors all organic ingredients and holds a firm skepticism of canola and soybean oils.

So I made the potato salad’s mayonnaise and swooned over the result, as did my diners. As they went back for seconds and then thirds, I prided myself on the lack of leftovers from this meal.

Here’s a recipe from the Los Angeles Times that explains several methods for making mayonnaise in the home kitchen. Try it in your favorite potato salad recipe or consider a departure with this “smashed potato salad” commonly served in Korean barbecue restaurants. If you want to make it with commercial mayonnaise, consider the Japanese Kewpie brand.

Making mayonnaise, though, takes just a few minutes. The hardest part is drizzling the oil slowly enough to keep it from breaking. It’s most easily accomplished in a food processor.

The egg in this recipe is consumed raw, which the USDA says isn’t safe because of the risk of salmonella. If you have a compromised immune system, are cooking for the very old, very young or pregnant women, or are otherwise concerned, use a pasteurized egg.

Whole Egg Mayonnaise

1 large egg

2 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup vegetable oil

Blend the egg, lemon juice and salt in a food processor or blender until smooth. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl if needed. With machine running, add the oil in a very slow, steady stream. Blend just until emulsified. Mayonnaise may be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Variations: 1. Handmade Whole Egg Mayonnaise: Whisk the egg, lemon juice and salt in a medium bowl. Continue whisking while adding the oil in a very slow, steady stream. Whisk until emulsified. 2. Olive Oil Mayonnaise: Substitute one-quarter of the oil with extra-virgin olive oil, slowly streaming the vegetable oil in first.

Smashed Potato Salad

1 Persian cucumber, scrubbed, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 teaspoon granulated sugar, divided

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 medium Russet potatoes (1 1/4 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

2 large eggs

1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1/2 cup homemade mayonnaise or store-bought

Place the cucumber in a small bowl and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar and 1 teaspoon salt. Toss to evenly coat and let stand until ready to use.

Combine the potatoes and 1 tablespoon salt in a large saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to maintain a light boil. Using a spoon, lower the eggs into boiling water. Boil potatoes and eggs together for 7 minutes, then add the carrot. Continue boiling for 5 minutes, then transfer eggs to a small bowl with a slotted spoon and add enough ice to cover. Boil potatoes and carrots until potatoes are very tender, for about 1 minute longer. Drain well, then return to dry saucepan.

Set saucepan over lowest possible heat to dry out potatoes. When they’re speckled and starting to stick to pan, after about 1 minute, transfer to a large bowl. Sprinkle the vinegar and remaining sugar evenly over potatoes; toss to coat. Mash about half of potatoes and break up remaining into smaller chunks. Transfer to refrigerator to cool.

Peel cooled eggs and coarsely chop, then add to potatoes. Grab cucumber slices by handfuls to squeeze out all liquid and add to potatoes. Add the mayonnaise and gently fold until well-mixed, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or refrigerate to serve cold. Potato salad may be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 day.

Makes 4 servings.

Smashed Potato Salad (Tribune News Service photo)
Whole Egg Mayonnaise (Tribune News Service photo)