I am a product of my northern Mississippi raising and, as such, a huge fan of the white emulsion known as “mayonnaise.” Not only is it essential on sandwiches, but it makes the dreamiest mashed potatoes, super moist chocolate cakes, and — I just learned recently — a pretty excellent seared steak.
I am fully aware of how this sounds, but I only eat homemade mayo. It’s partially a budget thing and partially out of convenience—even in large quantities, mayo is incredibly cheap and easy to make — but more than anything else, it’s about flavour. Homemade mayo will always taste fresher and just plain better than anything you can get out of a jar.
Alton Brown may have posted about the mayo steak last year, but it only recently made its way into my realm of awareness; I am dismayed I missed it the first time around, because “mayo steak” is extremely my shit.
If you put aside whatever mayo phobia you’re working with, and think about what’s actually in mayonnaise (a lot of oil, some egg, sugar and seasonings), it makes complete sense as a searing agent. The sugar and protein help in the browning department, while the oil acts as, well, oil.
When I tried it on a Denver steak Friday night, I found it created an excellent crust in a matter of minutes and did not — I promise you — taste of mayonnaise even a little bit.
If you are imagining a piece of beef glommed with mayo, know that you only need a tiny bit. Just as you would treat your pan with a thin sheen of neutral oil, you treat your steak with a thin — almost translucent — coating of the condiment. Just dip a pastry brush into some mayonnaise, paint it on both sides, then season as you normally would.
Sear in a scorching-hot, untreated pan (because the steak is treated, you see), and cook to your desired point of doneness. Marvel at the mayo crust, devour your steak, and repeat as needed (maybe try it with salmon).