Appetizer, packable lunch, or Easter brunch offering: Egg salad is a protein-packed, yet elegant dish that can hold its own in any setting. Acclaimed author and kitchen maestro Michael Ruhlman crafts the perfect egg salad in his twenty-first cookbook Egg (Little Brown, 2014). In the following excerpt, Ruhlman offers his road rules for creamy, yet savory egg salad recipes, proper serving techniques, and shows us how to make an herby variation.
Egg Salad According to Michael Ruhlman
Egg salad is one of the most accessible, easy, and delightful egg preparations, though the name confounds me. Why salad? Can’t we come up with a better name for chopped eggs bound with mayonnaise? You can put it on lettuce if you want—but be sure it’s crunchy lettuce, head lettuce or romaine, which serve as a serving vessel and garnish. Because egg salad is about the softest food you can make, it should always be paired with something crunchy: Toast. Crackers. Celery. Crisp bacon. Try making a lettuce wrap with the tarragon-chive version, or serve pappadams with the curried egg salad.
Egg Salad Rules of Thumb
- 2 eggs per serving
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise per egg
- judicious flavoring (herbs, spices, onion, as you wish)
- crunch (croutons, celery)
Egg salad is especially good when you make your own mayonnaise (Egg Salad with Homemade Lemon-Shallot Mayonnaise, is heaven to me)…But it’s not essential, so wondrous are the fresh hard-cooked eggs themselves. And sometimes even I don’t want to bother with homemade mayo (I always have some Hellmann’s on hand for a fried-egg sandwich. In that case I make sure to load the eggs with plentiful, flavorful herbs, such as tarragon (my favorite herb with eggs) and the oniony chive.
I love an egg salad sandwich on toasted bread, but egg salad can also make an excellent—and elegant—canapé on crackers or small toasts, an hors d’oeuvre that can be made in advance. A tablespoonful on a water cracker garnished with a sprig of chervil or a small leaf of tarragon is a satisfying and economical bite to serve a lot of guests.
Preparing the Eggs
A wooden bowl and a rounded knife called a mezzaluna are the perfect tools for quickly and neatly chopping hard cooked eggs.
The yolks fall apart easily, so you mainly have to go after the whites.
Chop the eggs to your taste. I like larger chunks of white, but those pictured here could be chopped even further for more uniformity.
Egg Salad with Tarragon and Chives
Serves 4 for sandwiches or 12 for canapés
Tarragon is my favorite herb, both powerful and gentle, assertive yet delicate. It pairs beautifully with eggs. I also love the oniony punch of chives with egg. I make this as a summer lunch, when the herb garden is lush.
- 3 tablespoons minced red onion
- 8 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and coarsely chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup/120 milliliters Hellmann’s mayonnaise or your own
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1. Put the red onion in a small bowl and sprinkle liberally with salt, then cover with water for 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Put the eggs in a medium bowl. Give them a three- or four-finger dose of salt and a liberal application of freshly ground pepper. Add the mayonnaise. Strain the onion and add it, along with the herbs, and stir with a rubber spatula till all of the ingredients are uniformly combined.
3. Egg salad is ready to serve, on toast as a sandwich, on toast points as a canape, or simply as is.
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