Egg salad is a humble and filling concoction. It can be as simple as leftover hard-boiled eggs and a jar of Hellmann’s or, with a little finesse, a show-off sandwich spread and star of an elegant appetizer. The secret is to employ the magic of the eggs, letting eggs do double duty as the bulk of the salad and the binder, which means, in this case, making mayonnaise from scratch. Mayonnaise from scratch need hold no fear for the home cook. One fresh egg yolk, less than a cup of fresh oil, a few minutes of your time and a sturdy whisk are all it takes to make a luscious, homemade mayonnaise that will elevate your egg salad from ho-hum to va-va-va-voom.
Pay attention to the basics when making your egg salad sandwich. Eggs should be properly boiled, no mineral gray ring covering the chalky yolk; whites just set, not rubbery. Creamy mayo, but not too salty. A little kick, maybe pepper, maybe hot sauce. Onion? No way, but perhaps a hint of chive. Crunch? Celery is for sissies and potato salad. I prefer radishes for a peppery bite and crunch. The bread must be toasted, and wheat is the only way to go. The blandness of white bread offers no contrast to the creamy egg salad.
Adapted from the Gourmet Cookbook and online sources
1 very fresh egg yolk
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup canola oil
1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
Pepper to taste
1. In a small bowl, place egg yolk, mustard and salt. Whisk until combined. Drop by drop, pour and whisk ¼ cup of the canola oil into the mixture. This will take up to 10 minutes (for me, at least). After the oil is thoroughly combined with the yolk, whisk in the vinegar and lemon juice. In a slow stream, add remaining oil. Take your time and make sure you do this right. If the mixture ever looks like it’s separating, stop pouring in oil and whisk the heck out of it, to combine. If you do this right, you will see the mixture change from dark yellow to lighter and creamier, ultimately a thick sauce, not fluffy like the stuff from the jar, but creamy and delicious, just the same.
Hard Boiled Eggs
Everyone and his dog has a recipe for perfect hard-boiled eggs. My advice is to keep trying until you find one that works for you. Here’s my method:
Start with a saucepan and insert a steamer basket (if you have it - this makes it easier to remove the eggs and also keeps them from bouncing around on the bottom of the pot). Place 6 eggs on opened basket, cover with cold water, bring to a rolling boil, cover and cook for less than a minute. Pull covered pan off the heat and turn kitchen timer to 13 minutes. Some folks say 12 minutes, some say 15. All I know is that mine were cooked perfectly at 13 minutes. Have an ice water bath nearby and plunge the cooked eggs into the cold water. When cool enough to handle, peel away the shells. Old eggs are easier to peel due to the air pocket, fresher eggs stubbornly hang on to their shells.
½ cup homemade mayonnaise
6 hard-boiled eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons chopped chives
thinly sliced radishes
1. To properly chop the eggs, I employ the same tool that I use to make a pie crust: a pastry blender. Halve the boiled eggs into a bowl and mash them up with the blender, you may also use a fork.
2. While mixing the spread, toast the wheat bread, use homemade if available.
3. Gently fold the chopped eggs into the mayonnise. Texture is what you’re after. Taste and correct seasoning. It may need more mayo for moisture or acid for contrast. Will probably definitely need pepper.
4. Spread a thin layer of mayo on bread. Then layer radishes, then egg salad. Apply lid to sandwich. Grab a good book, pull up to the counter and tuck in.
Oh, and here's the bonus: a canape: Egg Salad with Chives on Radish Rounds. How simple is this, a baby spoonful of egg salad on a sliced radish, with a sliver of chive on top?
Text & images copyright 2010, Lucy Mercer.