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Five ways to cook and bake with mayo for lovers and haters alike

You’ll find plenty of retro, or retro-inspired, chocolate cake recipes that call for mayo.  (Scott Suchman/For the Washington Post)
You’ll find plenty of retro, or retro-inspired, chocolate cake recipes that call for mayo. (Scott Suchman/For the Washington Post)
By Becky Krystal Washington Post

People tend to have strong opinions about mayonnaise, whether they love it or loathe it. After many years as a skeptic, I’ve come around to its merits. Even so, it’s easy to buy a jar for one particular recipe or use and then have a lot of it left over, destined to languish in the refrigerator.

For the record, the USDA’s Food Keeper App recommends using open mayonnaise within two months. Here are a few different ideas beyond spreading it inside your sandwich to help make a dent in your mayo supply.

• Use on the outside of the sandwich. My grilled cheese sandwiches entered a whole new level of golden and crispy when I started spreading mayo on the outside of the bread instead of using another fat to griddle it in the skillet. The color and flavor can’t be beat, especially when compared to oil or, arguably, butter. Just keep an eye on the sandwich, as I have found the window for not burning the outside with mayo is smaller.

• Slather it on poultry. Much like sandwiches, the skin of your chicken or turkey will reach new heights when you incorporate mayo into whatever you coat the meat. Here’s a tidbit from cookbook author and recipe developer Ali Slagle: “Mayo acts as a preventive coating to anything that you’d like to brown, including grilled steaks, skillet chicken thighs and grilled cheese. As mayonnaise cooks, its own (contentious) flavor dissipates, but because it’s a great carrier of flavor, any ingredients you stirred into it can cook and bloom without burning.”

• Add it to dips and dressings. Mayo’s thick texture and tangy flavor make it a natural in all sorts of dips and dressings. A tablespoon or two added to dips can lend heft and taste in a concentrated package. Similarly, consider using mayo as a binder in other dishes, such as crab cakes.

• Make a cheater’s aioli. Before I upset anyone, let me say that I know aioli is a garlicky sauce similar to mayonnaise that’s popular in Spain and the Mediterranean. However, I’m not the first one to say that you can capture a similar vibe by starting with mayo. In the U.S., aioli has come to also mean basically a flavored mayo.

• Bake with it. You’ll find plenty of retro, or retro-inspired, chocolate cake recipes that call for mayo. After all, it includes eggs and oil, two primary baking ingredients. Fans will tell you it makes cakes even more moist and tender, too.

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