If you’re tired of grill flare-ups from oil runoff, or food sticking to the racks, a layer of mayonnaise may be just the solution you’re looking for.
This is the season of outdoor parties and cookouts, as those of us self-professed grill masters and weekend warriors deftly show off our live-fire cooking skills in front of family and friends. That is, until the grill flares up and those beautiful steaks are reduced to charcoal and we’re peeling them off the grill through a cloud of smoke.
It’s an all-too-common tragedy played out in backyards everywhere. What if there was an easier way?
My challenge was always fish, which would glue itself to the grill whether I oiled the fillets or the grill racks, or both. Then I noticed chef Michael Cimarusti lightly brush delicate halibut fillets with mayonnaise before grilling. Yes, mayo — the stuff of cafeteria bologna sandwiches and picnic potato salads. Cimarusti is chef and owner of Providence in Los Angeles, No. 1 for the last few years on Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants List. He uses the technique at the restaurant, and when I asked him about it, he explained that the mayonnaise keeps the fish from sticking to the grill. He adds a very thin layer, “so it’s almost not there.”
This isn’t the first I’d heard about cooking with mayonnaise. It’s often touted as the fat of choice, particularly when making a grilled cheese sandwich. Dave Danhi, founder of the Grilled Cheese Truck, slathers a combination of butter and mayonnaise on the outside of his sandwiches before cooking.
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“I’ve done it since the beginning,” said Danhi, formerly chef at fine-dining restaurants including the Water Grill, touting the golden-brown crust it gives the sandwiches. He argues that the addition of mayonnaise raises the smoking temperature so the sandwiches don’t burn on the griddle.
But what about the grill?