An egg salad sandwich like no other–creamy, crunchy, rich, piquant, and totally satisfying. With a secret.
An egg salad sandwich is an egg salad sandwich is an egg salad sandwich, ad infinitum, right? I don’t think so. An egg salad sandwich is one of life’s most fundamentally satisfying taste experiences and even when done carelessly, it often satisfies nonetheless. But when done thoughtfully, it is one of the greatest dishes in the world.
So you can imagine my excitement when a number of years ago I happened upon a tiny guidebook that mentioned an obscure hole-in-the-wall in Old Town, Portland, Oregon and stated matter of factly that this joint made the BEST egg salad sandwich in the universe. Guess where I went for lunch that day?
I live only a short distance from Old Town, so naturally I walked. But when I turned into a not altogether savory alley and then took a look inside the dingy, dark little space, empty except for a disheveled, preoccupied guy standing behind the counter, I almost turned away. Then just as I was about to get the heck out of there, this thought arose: THE BEST EGG SALAD SANDWICH IN THE UNIVERSE.
Now logically I could see that was hardly possible in this situation. Someone must have paid off the reviewer or else she took perverse delight in sending tourists and naïve people like me to miserable, scary outposts where the egg salad would most likely kill them.
These were my thoughts as I ordered the sandwich from counter guy who showed up at my table as server guy, complete with a tablet to write down the order. I watched him out of the corner of my eye as he became chef guy, clanging around in the small space behind the counter. Eventually, counter/server/chef guy delivered the sandwich, complete with paper napkin and a glass of water.
Surprisingly, the sandwich looked tasty. Even more surprisingly, it tasted WONDERFUL. There was something in it that lifted it way beyond the usual. A hit of capers, garlic, and something else that delivered periodic short bursts of high intensity zing. I eliminated the possibility of dill pickles, bacon, or herbs. Those were not what was making the magic.
Two days later, the sandwich replayed itself in my mind for the umpteenth time, but on this round the mystery ingredient revealed itself and took a sly bow. Have you guessed it?
I immediately ran to the kitchen, boiled six eggs, and then produced the absolute best egg salad sandwich I have ever eaten. Yes, even better than the original, which was very fine indeed. (Sadly, the little joint that inspired this sandwich is no longer in business.)
LunaCafe Egg Salad Sandwich Perfecta Mundo
This sandwich is absolute perfection in my book: creamy, crunchy, rich, piquant, and totally satisfying. The secret ingredient is blue cheese, preferably the best blue cheese you can find. I also adore sautéed prosciutto on this sandwich. Even the thinnest slice packs a flavor wallop that beautifully complements the richness of the egg salad.
To make a perfect egg salad sandwich, you must have perfect hard-boiled eggs. A sure-fire recipe is below. In addition, I recommend that you coarsely chop the eggs, not mince or mash them as some recipes instruct. Texture is very nice in this sandwich and coarsely chopped eggs are also more appealing visually.
6 hard boiled eggs, peeled
1 tablespoon capers, drained and chopped
½ cup mayonnaise, plus 4 tablespoons for spreading on bread
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, peeled, and minced or pressed
2 tablespoons Rogue Creamery Smokey Blue cheese (Oregon blue cheese smoked with hazelnut shells and cave aged at least 90 days), or other delicious blue cheese
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
soft, chewy artisan bread (such as ciabatta or rosemary potato loaf), sliced ½-inch thick, lightly toasted or grilled.
tender baby salad greens, such as arugula, watercress, or butter lettuce (or a mixture)
6-8 applewood smoked bacon strips or thinly sliced prosciutto strips, sautéed until crisp and drained on paper towels, optional
½ thinly sliced red onion, optional
- Coarsely chop the eggs and add to a medium bowl along with the capers. Reserve.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, garlic, and blue cheese until combined.
- Fold gently mayonnaise mixture into the egg mixture. Do not mash the egg. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
- When ready to serve, lightly toast 3-4 ½-inch thick slices of artisan bread.
- Spread one side of toasted bread with remaining mayonnaise, lay on some of the baby greens, add bacon or prosciutto, add onion, and then add a couple of good size scoops of egg salad to complete each sandwich.
- Serve right away.
Makes 3-4 open-faced sandwiches.
Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs
Perfect hard-boiled eggs are a cinch to prepare, however many cooks error on the side of overcooking. If you see a greenish area around the yolk after boiling and peeling the eggs, you have overcooked them. This same greenish area will occur if the boiled eggs are stored for any length of time in the refrigerator.
1-6 reasonably fresh (but not just-laid fresh), large eggs
1½ quarts cool tap water
- Put the eggs in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water.
- On high heat, bring the water to a bare simmer (180°-190° with tiny bubbles steadily breaking the surface).
- Immediately remove the pan from the heat, cover with a lid, and let set for at least 10 minutes. (Longer will not overcook the eggs.)
- Run cold water over the eggs until they are cool enough to handle.
- Now peel the eggs and use as desired. If they are difficult to peel, place in the refrigerator for up to an hour and then try again.
Makes 1-6 perfect hard-boiled eggs.
Copyright 2010 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.