Alton Brown’s Secret Ingredient for Cooking Steak Is Just Weird Enough to Work

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Don’t you just hate it when you’re trying to make a recipe, but halfway through you realize you’re missing a key ingredient? It’s so frustrating. It happens to the best of us, though. Just this week, Alton Brown found himself with a raw steak, but no oil or butter to cook it in. Rather than give up, or drive to the store to get some more, the Good Eats host decided to improvise, and he cooked his steak in mayonnaise instead. Even he seemed surprised.

“I didn’t have any oil or butter so … #mayo #steak,” he writes on Instagram, alongside a photo of a very large, good-looking steak sizzling in a cast iron pan. The steak is indeed slathered with mayonnaise.

The idea of cooking a steak in mayonnaise is only half as surprising as the idea that someone like Alton could run out of oil or butter. But the results actually look quite good.

“Struck upon an interesting twist on steak tonight,” he writes.

People always say that necessity is the mother of invention, and a few good improv skills are always useful things to have in the kitchen. From the reactions on Alton’s Instagram page, it sounds like he might be onto something.

“Wipes drool from chin,” one commenter writes, and multiple others piped in to say mayonnaise instead of butter was the only way to make a good grilled ham and cheese sandwich.

Alton’s mayonnaise steak is a neat idea that stems from the fact that mayonnaise is mostly oil, so it’ll do in a pinch, and it develops a gorgeous golden-brown crust because of the extra ingredients in the emulsion, like egg yolks, lemon juice, and vinegar.

The LA Times recently extolled the virtues of grilling with mayonnaise, pointing out that the mayonnaise sticks to the meat better than plain oil or butter does, so it’s even better at keeping the meat from sticking, and the meat browns even better in mayonnaise than meat cooked in oil or butter alone.

Would you try Alton Brown’s mayo steak?