Odds are many of you out there in this vast country of ours are looking out the window and seeing a snowy/sleety/icy/otherwise yucky wintry landscape. What’s better than a warm, gooey grilled cheese on a day like today? Maybe a grilled cheese fried not in butter or olive oil, as you might be accustomed to, but in (drumroll, please)… mayonnaise.
That’s right, I said mayo. Well, I wrote it, but you’ve picked up what I’m putting down. Perhaps you’re thinking, “Mayo is the grossest, you crazy person,” or maybe it’s more along the lines of, “Why have I never thought of this before?” We here at Consumerist HQ hadn’t heard of it until one day when we did, so yours truly gathered up some brave pals and some basic ingredients and went to it.
I gathered five friends together with promises of free cheese (and also tomato soup because come on, necessary) and prepared a blind taste test. Each plate was marked with simply A, B or C, and only me and my trusty photographer knew which was cooked in what. All grilled cheeses were cooked in pans that varied in size but were otherwise identical in their makeup/coating, all at a little over medium heat.
I decided to go the classic route and use American cheese singles and white bread for four out of five friends to maintain consistency in general taste, cooking time, heat, etc. One friend brought his own wheat bread and white cheddar because he grew up with hippies.
Then of course there was mayo, salted butter and extra virgin olive oil, just for funsies and because some people like using it. Note that I have no brand preferences, I just grabbed whatever was at the store.
As the master griller, I clearly could not be blind while cooking. That’s just irresponsible. Here’s what I came away with.
Butter: I made sure to soften the butter for easy spreading. These took a bit longer to achieve a nice, even brownness, but if you’ve ever made a grilled cheese this way, you’ll know there are no surprises.
Mayo: Super easy to spread on the outsides of the bread (not the inside where the cheese is, because gross), and I only used a thin layer because I’m not a huge fan of condiments in general. It cooked quickly, but not the “Oh my god I can’t control this, it’s already burning!” quickly. The result was a nice, even browning that had a bit of crunch to it, similar to the crust on French toast.
Olive oil: This tends to burn faster, as it has a low smoke point due to its flavoredness. The bread also sucks up the oil quickly, making it harder to get an even coating on each side. It was my least favorite to cook.
Each participant had a feedback form to fill out their reactions and vote for their favorite grilled cheeses. Then everyone basically chowed down and stuffed their faces with cheese and soup — wine is optional but was a delightful addition to an already delightful day.
A = Butter
B = Mayo
C= Olive Oil
Tim: A. Better than C — creamy and delicious. This is the grilled cheese for me. B. Different — tangy but you know, I kind of like it. C. Classic, what I’d expect. Real meat and potatoes without the meat and… you know the rest.
Liz: A. Winner B. Least favorite C. Boring Overall: Never make a grilled cheese with B AGAIN.
Katy: (Full disclosure, she took pics during the process so wasn’t blind testing but her opinion is still valid and awesome) A. Has the richest flavor B. Has a mayo-y flavor which I don’t like C. Is the most bread/cheese taste, favorite overall.
Luke: A. Greasiest, light color B. Crisp, not soggy, tangy C. Dry, darkest
Jim: A, C, B in that order.
MBQ (again, clearly I was not blind): A. Always delicious, no qualms there. B. Surprisingly good, didn’t detect any noticeable mayo flavor, favorite C. Dry, a bit charred because I burned it.
Although mayo made a good showing, the strongest preference in the group was still for butter. But because I’m the one writing this post and mayo was my favorite, I will tell you that it was delicious and I highly recommend it, even if you normally despise mayo as a sandwich add-on. It could be good for when you don’t want to soften butter, due to its easy spreadability. Go on, try it. You can trust me, and you can trust cheese.
A very special thank you from the entire team, taste testers and photographer Katy! Also to friend Casey who wanted badly to be there but was too sick to eat cheese, the poor thing.
You can follow MBQ on Twitter if you don’t mind Tweets about cheese often: @marybethquirk