Saturday, March 31, 2012

Egg Salad Sandwich, Hold the Mayo

Let me start by saying I've always had an aversion to egg salad.  So it seems strange to be dedicating an entire post to it.  Up until a few weeks ago, I had never eaten egg salad.  Therefore, I am by no means an egg salad expert.  I'm not sure where you'd find an individual with that sort of expertise, but I assure you, it's not me.  What I do know is I despise the version sitting at the deli at the supermarket.  It's the same one sitting on the salad bar.  I've never tasted it, nor would I want to.  I've never ordered egg salad at a deli or restaurant.  When I see egg salad, I can't help but think some angry individual mashed the bejesus out of those poor precious eggs, tearing the yolks away from the white albumen, proceeding to douse them in gloppy mayonnaise.  An egg salad of this fate is a sad one.  Eggs are much too delicate for such vulgar treatment.  

I just finished reading Tamar Adler's 'An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace.' The book is a compilation of approachable cooking lessons modeled after M.F.K. Fisher's 'How to Cook a Wolf.'  It's a wonderful and inspiring read.  Adler made me feel, as though I could make humble meals sparkle with a little know how.  All food has a purpose.  I will forever think twice about discarding beet and leek tops.  The second chapter is dedicated solely to the egg: How to Teach an Egg to Fly.  Adler writes, "I am going to be as practical as I can be because most people know how to 'make eggs.'  But 'making eggs' sounds dull and habitual, and too much like, 'making do,' and we and eggs deserve better."  She advocates purchasing eggs from someone raising chickens for eggs, going on to describe their yolks ranging "from buttercup to yellow to marigold."  Good eggs she argues are worth their price and care.  One should give proper thought and consideration before cooking automatically and cracking.  So, it is with great intention and consideration that I gave second thought to egg salad.

I got my hands on some heirloom eggs, their shells a pale shade of mint, and carefully hardboiled a half dozen.  Perhaps these would make a better-suited egg for Easter, natures own doing.  (If you happen to be dying eggs this Easter, you might want to check this out.  Tell me that's not a fabulous idea).  The eggs I found from Ameraucana hens yielded as promised, marigold yolks.  Since these hens have a diet rich in marigold, it makes sense.  It's worth noting, the fresher your eggs, the more trying it will be to remove the peels.  I always have difficulty.  I'd like to think it's a testament to the quality of my eggs.  It's a tedious act of love and patience.  The shells rarely come off in clean swoops, and instead, tiny shattered pieces sprinkle my counter.  I do my best not to remove white flecks.  It slows me down, forcing me to appreciate the process nonetheless.    

My egg salad uses Greek yogurt instead of mayo, some whole grain mustard and a touch of lemon juice for some tang.  I've always been into mustard more than mayo and I think it works well in this instance.  There are some finely chopped flecks of red onions tossed in, and a fairy dusting of capers for a surprisingly salty bite here and there.  The eggs aren't mashed, but rather, gently and roughly chopped, an oxymoron yes, but the best way to describe how to treat them.  They'll retain some structure this way and it makes for a more pleasant texture in the salad.  I like to sandwich the egg salad between two slices of sourdough bread with spinach or lettuce.  I've also made open-faced sandwiches, piling the egg salad high on a bed of the same.  A great tasting classic sandwich with a little twist is born.  Egg salad doesn't scare me anymore.  It's quite lovely in this manner.  I believe I've given egg salad new wings.  If you find yourself with leftover Easter eggs, I hope you'll put them to good use and make Adler proud.    

~Egg Salad Sandwich Recipe, Hold the Mayo~

6 large organic eggs, hard-boiled* 
3 tbsp Greek yogurt
2 tsp whole grain or dijon mustard
1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp capers, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp finely diced red onions
pinch of sea salt and pepper to taste

*Here's what works for me when hard-boiling eggs.  I place the eggs in the bottom of a pan and fill it with water until they are covered by about an inch or so.  Put the heat on high and as the water starts to come to a gentle boil (the eggs will barely begin to pop up from the bottom and want to bounce), remove them from the heat.  Put a lid on them.  The eggs will be done in 10 minutes.  Transfer the eggs to a bowl of icy cold water to stop the cooking process.  Once they are cool enough to handle, peel back the shells. Transfer to a cutting board and roughly chop.

In a small bowl, mix together yogurt, mustard, lemon juice, and capers.  Add in eggs.  Carefully fold the eggs into the mixture with a rubber spatula or spoon.  Don't overwork it.  Add sea salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.  Serve between slices of bread or make open faced sandwiches.  Serves 4. 


Sue/the view from great island said...

I love this---those eggs are amazing. I think I will use that mayo-free dressing idea for other salads as well, thanks!

Eileen said...

Ooh, I love egg salad, but I also agree that most of the deli and especially supermarket versions are just awful. I like to make mine with roughly chopped eggs and lots of dill, and I'll definitely have to try swapping the mayo for yogurt.

Super glad to see those beautiful barely-cooked yolks! Now that is what a hard-boiled egg should look like.

Amy said...

Wow what a beautifully boiled egg! I'm like you though stephanie... no "expert" on egg salad sandwiches (haha but yeah, really, who is?) but I enjoy mine almost the exact same way you do -- capers, lemon, greek yogurt, but no red onion and add thyme. Here's to egg salad sandwiches that do eggs justice. :)

Abby said...

What beautiful eggs! Completely agree when you have such an outstanding ingredient you have to let it shine. Can't wait to try out the yogurt!

Anonymous said...

Yoghurt, mustard and onions! This is a new egg-mayp-without-mayo salad for me! Btw, I have just passed on the Kreativ Blogger award to you. You might already have them but here you go again!
For Details:

Epicurea said...

these are beautiful eggs - really can't wait for easter! and thanks for sharing the recipe, i love egg salad and this is a great way to make it healthier!

kyleen said...

I feel the same way as you. Egg salad sandwiched just kind of... put me off. The last one I had was really watery and kind of slimy. I bet that the freshness and quality of the eggs really makes a huge difference in taste and texture. I need to get my hand on some fresh eggs!

Your sandwich looks delicious!

Margarita said...

I love home made egg salad... Especially ones that use Greek yogurt instead of mayo. Eggs are great... Icook with them everyday, for breakfasts, desserts, dinners, and egg sandwiches. Love this idea of not mashing eggs. They look so much more appealing that way. My mom used to cut hers carefully into teeny pieces. Beautiful post on giving more credit to eggs and nice chicken farmers.

Colleen @ Culinary Colleen said...

I love how simple and healthy this is!