Canned chipotles in adobo have been popular in the United States for quite some time, and I often hear people refer to chipotle aioli, which often means store-bought mayo blended with a canned chipotle. But by definition, a true aioli includes garlic and olive oil, whereas a mayonnaise excludes the garlic and uses a neutral-flavored oil as I do here. While you can make a cheater version of this by blending store-bought mayonnaise with chipotles, making your own mayonnaise is nearly as simple, requiring only the blender and a couple of extra minutes, and it’s much tastier.
Many mayonnaise recipes will tell you to use two egg yolks, but I prefer to use one whole egg, because I hate to have to waste half the egg, and mayonnaise still emulsifies when you include the white, although it may be a bit thinner, which is fine. Be sure to remove the seeds from the chipotle before blending it, since you want the finished mayonnaise to be silky. If you forget, you can also strain your finished mayonnaise.

MAKES 1 CUP / 240G

1 egg
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
½ tsp sea salt
1 canned chipotle chile in adobo, seeds removed
¾ cup / 180ml safflower oil
In a food processor or a blender, pulse the egg, lime juice, salt, and chipotle until well combined. With the motor running, add the oil in a slow drizzle, processing until the mayonnaise emulsifies and turns creamy. Partway through, be sure to turn off the processor, scrape the sides, and process again so as not to waste anything. Alternatively, you can do all of this by hand, using a whisk and beating vigorously for about 8 minutes. (In the blender, it should take 4 to 5 minutes.)
This mayonnaise is best used on the day you make it, although it can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. For a spicier mayonnaise, leave in the chipotle seeds and then press the finished mayonnaise through a fine-mesh strainer using a silicone spatula.
Follow the main recipe but omit the chipotle chile.

The commercial Mexican cheeses and other dairy products sold in the United States are problematic for me. In Mexico, we can seek out organic, additive-free queso fresco (our version of ricotta) and crema ácida (our version of sour cream). I love a good queso Chihuahua, which we use in quesadillas because it melts so well, or a dry and salty aged queso cotija, grated over a stew, or a freshly made queso fresco. Just like the cheeses from any other culture, great Mexican cheeses are best made by people who take pride in seeking the truest flavor they can get from every small batch.
In the United States, most Mexican cheeses and creams at Mexican markets are largely uninspiring, highly processed foods, shrink-wrapped in heavy plastic and with about as much flavor as you’d imagine they would have based on how they look. I don’t think there is much point in seeking them out on some quest for authenticity. They simply won’t taste that good, even if they have Spanish names. If you have a market where they are selling locally made or interesting-looking Mexican cheeses, then by all means try them. I am sure that cheese makers will catch up with the trend for increasingly high-end Mexican food. But if you can’t find what looks like good Mexican cheese, then I recommend substituting a great-quality cheese that is not typically Mexican, and I will make suggestions for what I would use.
For instance, if you’re looking for a mild cheese that melts well, then instead of Chihuahua cheese, you might swap a really good whole-milk mozzarella. For something grated and sharp, I usually opt for a ricotta salata. I don’t use American sour cream. Like most Mexicans, I find its taste too sour, and I don’t like its consistency. Instead, I either make crema ácida ahead of time to use in recipes, or if I need it right away, I buy crème fraîche, which is closer in flavor to Mexican crema and has a lovely richness. I like to make queso fresco, but again—if I don’t have the time, I’ll substitute a good ricotta. I have no problem cooking Mexican food with these non-Mexican cheeses. While it’s easy to find amazing-tasting Mexican cheeses in Mexico, that’s not yet the case elsewhere, and since the goal is for these dishes to taste terrific, I’m more than willing to make this concession.

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