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What Is Balsamic Vinegar?
Balsamic vinegar, or aceto balsamico if you’re fancy (or Italian, or both), is vinegar made partially or entirely of grape must—the fresh grape juice of Trebbiano and Lambrusco varietals. The skins, stems, and all are aged in wooden barrels to the result of an incredibly dark, concentrated substance with shades of roasted fig and deep summer prunes and the subtle tartness of dark chocolate and sherry.
While balsamic vinegar used to be a specialty of the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, only produced in Reggio Emilia and nearby Modena, these days you can find it in grocery stores all over the world. White balsamic vinegar, typically made from white Trebbiano grapes, is another beloved specialty of the region.
How to Use Balsamic Mayonnaise
Chef Massimo Bottura, who has three Michelin stars, developed this balsamic mayonnaise to use with Emilia Burger, a riff on the American classic using ingredients from his region of Italy, Emilia Romana. This balsamic mayonnaise is “all about sweetness and acidity,” according to Massimo, and is very versatile:
- Use it as a dip for fresh vegetables
- Use it for other sandwiches, like a B.L.T.
- Mix it into tuna or salmon salads
- Toss it into pasta salads
You can keep this mayonnaise in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Chef Massimo Bottura’s Balsamic Mayonnaise Recipe
- 1 whole egg
- 2½ ounces (75 grams) aged balsamic vinegar
- 2 cups (500 milliliters) grapeseed oil
- Flaky sea salt
- Combine the egg and balsamic vinegar in a blender, and process on low speed until smooth.
- While blending, slowly drizzle in a few drops of grapeseed oil until the mayonnaise begins to emulsify, then continue slowly pouring the oil in a thin stream until it is all added. The mayonnaise should be smooth and shiny.
- Season the mayonnaise with salt, and add more vinegar if you’d like. (Alternatively, you can blend the mayonnaise with an immersion blender in a tall cup, as Massimo does.)
- Transfer the mayonnaise to a storage container, and refrigerate until ready to use. It will keep for up to one day.
- Chef Massimo recommends pairing this mayonnaise with his salsa verde because the mayonnaise’s sweetness goes with the salsa’s acidity. You can find his recipe for salsa verde here.
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