I have been called a nerd by my daughter, Libby, due to my excitement over a blue chicken's egg. That tickled me, as it is true that most folks don't really get too excited over the color of their eggs! But as a farmer's daughter and chef, the color of the egg, the hen that laid the egg, and how she lived and ate all interest me. (By the way, the color of the shell has no impact on the flavor of the egg!) Growing up, chickens were a part of our lives, and eggs are without doubt one of my favorite ingredients and foods. ( In the upcoming cookbook I devote some time sharing my experiences growing up on a farm, so I'll get to today's recipe and leave those details for later.)
I didn't grow up eating egg salad, but Barry (my husband) did. So I tried different egg salads and all I can say is that they left me wanting a lot more in every way. They were all boring and bland, and tasted like someone just tossed some mayonnaise into chopped egg. So when I discovered that my customers did crave egg salad, particularly in the Spring during Lent, I got busy developing a recipe that suited their needs as well as my need for a dish with more complexity and personality. I added Dijon mustard for some acidity and zing, capers for a touch of brininess, and fresh tarragon for some herbal notes! The result was a total success, as this sold out nearly every time it was on the menu. I hope you'll take advantage of the abundance of eggs and the herbs that are coming on the scene now and try out this recipe for Spring Egg Salad!
Spring Egg Salad
12 extra large eggs, hard-boiled, peeled and shredded*
½ cup thinly-sliced scallions
½ cup finely chopped celery
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons capers, drained and chopped + 1 teaspoon caper liquid
1 teaspoon finely minced fresh tarragon
½ cup mayonnaise (you can use light, if you must!)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
*To prepare eggs perfectly for making the salad: Place eggs in a very large saucepan or small stock pot and fill with cold water to cover eggs by about two inches. Place over high heat (uncovered) and bring to a full, rolling boil. As soon as the water comes to a full boil, set a timer for one minute. After one minute, remove the pan from the heat and cover with a lid. Set the timer for 12 minutes and leave undisturbed.
Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl, leaving room for the eggs to be added. When the 12 minutes end, drain the eggs and transfer to the ice bath. (I sometimes drain the eggs, run cold water over them in the pan I cooked them in, then add ice to fill the pan and top off with water-saves washing a bowl!) Allow to cool completely.
While the eggs are cooling, combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl and whisk until completely blended.
Peel the eggs, rinsing as needed to insure no bits of shell remain, pat dry, and then either grate on a box grater into a bowl, or drop through the tube of a food processor fitted with a grater blade to shred. (We used the food processor at the cafe when we made triple batches to speed up the process!)
Either way, add the shredded eggs to the bowl, mix until completely combined, adjust seasoning if needed, then cover and chill.
Serve on toast or on a bed of lettuce.