It has long been my personal belief that the egg salad sandwich is a sandwich too ugly to look at, let alone eat. I'm talking about those structure-less mayo bombs served on soggy white bread. An egg salad sandwich fitting this description shows up at my house roughly once a week wrapped in tight-fitting plastic - pretty much whenever Wayne hits up the neighborhood sandwich shop. I always look at him incredulously and ask...really? You really want to eat that? I just don't get it. Generally speaking he doesn't even like eggs very much. Whoever cast the egg salad sandwich spell on him did a fine job.
It wasn't until last week when we went to the Vivienne Westwood exhibit at the de Young museum that I was forced to rethink my position. At the café my friend Quyen submitted her sandwich order (one egg salad please)....I looked at her and shook my head. You too? This in turn opened up a lengthy lunchtime conversation on the merit of egg salad. Egg Salad Sandwich Lovers:2, Haters: 1.
My case wasn't helped by what was about to come out of the café kitchen. When her sandwich appeared before us the clouds parted, angels sang, and a golden beam of sunlight was cast onto her plate. It was an egg salad sandwich of a totally different breed. You could see vibrant yellow yolks, flecks of herbs, and capers. Mayo? Little if any. And the best part? Not a soggy piece of bread in sight.
And this is how inspiration strikes. I saw Quyen's tasty looking egg salad sandwich and it showed me that a sandwich made of hard-boiled eggs can be appetizing to both the eye and the taste buds. I thought about it for a few days and came up with a game plan for my own that went something like this. For the bread - whole grain bread toasted and sliced on the thin side. Toasting will help deter the sog-factor. Some crunchy add-ins were going to be critical to counter the mush factor of the eggs. My choice? Chopped celery. Eggs pair beautifully with herbs - at the market I was on the lookout for fresh dill, but came across chives instead. Perfect. I knew I was after a drier egg salad mixture and would use a minimal amount of mayo - just enough to bind the egg mixture together. Achieving bright yellow yolks would be of the utmost importance. A friend of my sister's recommended chopped bacon as an addition. I countered with fried shallots, but didn't end up using them at the last minute - the flavor was overpowering the eggs and chives. If you wanted to go that route, a remix of this sandwich where you broil some thinly sliced gruyere cheese onto your toast, top with the egg salad mixture, sprinkle with the fried shallots, and serve open-faced would likely be delicious.
It also dawned on me that this is prime egg salad sandwich season! Put all those leftover hard-boiled eggs from Easter to good use (I should note that we always had leftover hardboiled eggs that we didn't use in the hunt).
Before I sign off, I'd like to thank everyone for the overwhelmingly enthusiastic response to the Unwilling Cook's letter earlier this week. 180+ fantastic, thoughtful responses - and they are STILL coming in! It makes me very proud to have such an amazing community of readers, and I promise to keep you posted on his progress.
Egg Salad Sandwich (the only one I'll eat)
I've realized that 90% of the challenge here is properly boiling the egg. You need to boil it so the center sets yet stays moist. You also need to avoid the green/grey ring thing that surrounds the yolk in many hard boiled eggs. I use the same technique here that I learned camping with a hardcore egg enthusiast. It has worked for me flawlessly ever since. The key is to avoid over cooking, and to dunk the eggs in a bowl of icy water to stop the cooking after you remove them from the hot water. I always use good quality eggs - but something to keep in mind, the fresher they are, the harder they are to peel after boiling.
6 large eggs
1-2 tablespoons mayonnaise (or Greek yogurt)
Salt and pepper
A tiny squeeze of lemon juice
2 stalks celery, washed and chopped
1/2 bunch chives, chopped
2 small handfuls of lettuce
8 slices of whole grain bread, toasted
Place the eggs in a pot and cover with cold water by a 1/2-inch or so. Bring to a gentle boil. Now turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for exactly seven minutes. Have a big bowl of ice water ready and when the eggs are done cooking place them in the ice bath for three minutes or so - long enough to stop the cooking. Crack and peel each egg, place in a medium mixing bowl. Add the mayonnaise, a couple generous pinches of salt and pepper, now mash with a fork. Don't overdo it, you want the egg mixture to have some texture. If you need to add a bit more mayo to moisten up the mixture a bit, go for it a bit at a time.
Stir in the celery and chives. Taste, and adjust the seasoning - adding more salt and pepper if needed.
To assemble each egg salad sandwich: place a bit of lettuce on a piece of toast, top with the egg salad mixture, and finish by creating a sandwich with a second piece of toast.
Make 4 sandwiches.
Prep time: 10 minutes