Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Got Easter Eggs? Make Egg Salad (with Lemon and Fennel)

I must not have liked egg salad as a kid. I know we dyed lots of hardboiled eggs for Easter, but my only after-Easter memories of colored eggs involve my brother knocking them into the woods with a baseball bat. Well, now I make hardboiled eggs just to make egg salad, and if I had any dyed eggs in my refrigerator, I’d be making bowl after bowl of the version I tried recently with lemon and fennel.

The lemon flavor in this egg salad comes from both lemon juice and zest, and the fennel comes from just a bit of fennel bulb and some minced fennel frond. Neither is an over-powering addition but both give just a hint of unique flavor to what could rapidly become a boring use of leftovers. Since this only uses a tablespoon of fennel bulb (or stem) and a tablespoon of fennel fronds (the wispy, dark green leaves), I would recommend having a recipe handy to use up the rest of the fennel bulb. And if you don’t like fennel, you could try replacing the bulb (or stem) with celery and the fronds with dill weed. In fact, I’m looking forward to trying that variation myself. (Maybe I should have taken some of those colored eggs we dyed “for my niece” home with me.)

Whatever I put in my egg salad that is on the chunky or crunchy side, I like to keep to a small, finely minced amount. It’s way too easy to dominate the delicate texture and flavor of the eggs with too many big, awkward crunchy things. If you’re not all that into eggs flavor-wise, you could season the salad with spices or sauces (like hot sauce) without running the risk of ruining the texture. And speaking of texture, while my mom mashes her eggs for salad with a fork, making almost a paste before stirring in the dressing/sauce, I prefer to keep mine a little chunky. The yolks kind of blend in with the dressing as I stir (which is fabulous), but I like a delicate, medium-coarse chop to the egg whites. You can do what you like, of course.

I suppose a post on egg salad should include at least one paragraph on hard-boiling eggs. I get good results when I start with the eggs in a medium-size pan of cold water and bring the water just to a boil over medium heat. I then put a lid on the pan, remove it from the heat, and let it stand for 15 minutes. After that I drain the hot water and cool the eggs, first in cold water, then in the refrigerator. This method allows the eggs to cook all the way through and rarely results in that weird greenish ring forming around the yolk.

When it comes to peeling hardboiled eggs, you may be on your own. Supposedly, your best bet for getting a nicely peeled egg with little or none of the cooked white sticking to the membrane under the shell is to use an egg that’s been sitting in the refrigerator for a few weeks. While I can say that I’ve never had any luck peeling a fresh egg, I cannot say that I’ve had consistent results when peeling older eggs. They seem to like to stick with their shells, too, although sometimes if I run water on the egg so that it gets between the white and the shell membrane, the egg will peel a little easier. I wish I could give you something more fool-proof, but at least now you know why I chose to post on a chopped egg salad, in which the aesthetics of the peeled hardboiled eggs isn’t so important, instead of deviled eggs.

Lemon-Fennel Egg Salad
Adapted from a recipe in Bon Appetit magazine

You can chop or even mash your eggs as coarsely or finely as you like. I prefer my egg salad a little chunky, so chop my eggs somewhat coarsely.

3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sour cream
½ teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh fennel bulb or stem
1 tablespoon minced fennel fronds
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 small (or half of a medium) garlic clove
¼ teaspoon salt
5 hardboiled eggs, shells removed, chopped

1. In a medium size bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, mustard, shallots, fennel bulb or stem, fennel fronds, and black pepper. Stir to combine.

2. Finely chop the garlic. Sprinkle the salt on top of the garlic on the cutting board and make a garlic-salt paste as described in this post. Add the garlic-salt paste to the mayonnaise mixture and mix well.

3. Add the chopped egg and stir to coat well.

Makes 3-4 servings.

One year ago: Root Vegetable and Cabbage Stir Fry with Ginger and Lemon

Two years ago: Corn Chowder with Edamame

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