QUESTION: What's the best use of leftover hard-cooked eggs?
ANSWER: Once the egg hunts are over, you've got a mess of hard-cooked eggs on hand. What's a cook to do? Why, of course, make egg salad.
After hard-cooking some eggs for a story on dying Easter eggs using whipped cream, I was in the same boat with leftover eggs. And so, I made egg salad and served it to the staff.
I wasn't prepared for the barrage of kudos of how good the egg salad was. Staffers told me it was the best they ever had. After that, of course, they asked "what did you put in it."
Like many cooks have their secrets and twists on dishes adding a dash or pinch of something that puts their mark on it, egg salad is one of those for me.
And so, I am going to tell you what I do.
Egg salad and an egg salad sandwich is like the turkey sandwich the day after Thanksgiving. Both are the sum of all their parts: the eggs (or turkey); the mayo, the seasoning and the condiments. All should complement one another in between equally important, but carefully selected, slices of bread.
What I think makes egg salad is making, and serving, it fresh. Also, you have to add just the right amount of mayonnaise for creaminess. And when it comes to mayonnaise, I am a flat-out a Hellman's gal. But when I can get it, Duke's mayonnaise, which is typically only available in the south, is the ultimate.
What makes Duke's so good is the texture and zippy flavor. A highlight is there is no sugar in it, according to the list of ingredients. Once, I found some small jars of it at a local dollar store. Duke's is a southeastern staple, and it's home is in Greenville, South Carolina. Last April, Duke's celebrated its 100th anniversary. It's really hard to come by in the north. Usually, when I head down south, I bring a few jars back with me.
My other secret is using chopped capers and a few dribbles of the caper juice from the jar. Capers add that smidgen of briny and saltiness to the egg salad. But it doesn't eliminate the need to use salt all together, I still add a bit of salt or use all purpose seasoning like Morton Nature's Seasons Seasoning Blend. This all purpose seasoning has no MSG and is a mix of salt, onion, garlic and celery.
And so, the week after Easter has long been deemed National Egg Salad week by the American Egg Board. And the reason behind the designation is so people use up all those eggs hard-cooked and dyed for the Easter Holiday within the week.
Here's my basic recipe for a classic egg salad. Feel free to gussy up as you wish with fresh chopped herbs and favorite seasonings.
CLASSIC EGG SALAD
Serves: 4 / Prep time: 15 minutes / Total time: 20 minutes
8 hard-cooked eggs, peeled
cup (or more as needed) favorite mayonnaise
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon or other prepared mustard
3 thinly sliced green onions
1 celery rib, finely minced, optional
1 heaping tablespoon capers, drained
1 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, optional
A few drops of caper juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste or favorite all purpose seasoning such as Morton Nature's Seasons Seasoning Blend
Coarsely chop the eggs and place in a bowl. Add the mayonnaise, mustard, green onions, celery, capers and dill. Stir to combine taking care not the mash up the eggs too much. You want chunks of visible egg.
Season to taste with a few dribbles of caper juice, salt and pepper or other seasoning. Taste and adjust seasoning. The mixture should be not too wet or dry, yet creamy enough be spreadable.
Spread several heaping tablespoonfuls on two slices of bread and serve as a sandwich. Or serve open-face on toasted bread slices, a bed of lettuce or with crackers.