Yesterday, my son Sam announced his intention to make egg salad for our lunch. He does not actually eat egg salad; he just felt like making some, and knows that Mr. Annie and I both like it. He was busy in the kitchen for a while, and then informed me that the water was boiling and that he wasn’t sure what to do. Blithely assuming that the eggs were already in the water, I told him to turn the heat off and leave the eggs in the water for 18 minutes.
Have I mentioned that the road to hell is paved with good intentions? The eggs were, in fact, not put into the water until it came to a boil, and the result after 18 minutes in the cooling water was a batch of eggs that were, at best, soft boiled, and which had been brutally stabbed with a knife to determine their done-ness. This unusual method of assessment (likely based on watching his father check meat on the grill) resulted in streamers of simmering white floating around the undercooked and violated eggs like some exotic flora of the sea.
As no one in this family particularly enjoys soft boiled eggs, particularly when they are water-logged, I suggested a complete do-over. Another 6 eggs were placed in the pot with cold water, brought to a boil, and then timed for 18 minutes. As they were cooking and cooling, I evaluated the somewhat Brobdingnagian hunks of onion he had cut earlier, and suggested in a manner both kind and compassionate that most people like fairly small pieces of onion in egg salad. He graciously agreed to chop them a little finer, and actually did quite a workman-like job.
Once the eggs were done, he rinsed them in cold water, peeled them all quite neatly, and put them in the bowl with the onions. He was delighted by my method of chopping the eggs (I go after them with either a pastry cutter or a whisk, depending on what’s clean) and very attentive to my explanation concerning the benefits of “binding” ingredients with mayonnaise as opposed to engaging in indiscreet glopping. We added a little mustard, salt and pepper, and I left him to the business of making sandwiches (on toasted whole wheat bread).
He will be a good cook, I think. He is interested in the right way to do things in the kitchen, but also in the sensuous and aesthetic aspects of food from the way a little salt can make things come alive, to the contrast between soft, cool salad and crunchy, hot toast. I also know with great certainty that he really knows how to hard-boil eggs now, and it was worth the loss of the first six to have taught a good lesson and shared a good time in the kitchen.
Egg Salad a Kid Can Make
- 6 Large or Extra Large eggs
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- Mayonnaise, to taste
- 1 teaspoon mustard (optional)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
Place eggs in medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil, then remove pan from heat and let eggs remain in water for 15-18 minutes depending on size of eggs.
While eggs are cooking, mince onion and place in mixing bowl.
When eggs are finished cooking, run cold water into the pot until eggs are cold to the touch, peel them, add to the onion, and chop with a fork or other implement. Add salt, pepper and mustard (if you like) as well as enough mayonnaise to hold everything together.
Serve in sandwiches, place a dollop on a ladylike piece of lettuce with a side of fruit salad, or eat from the mixing bowl standing over the sink.