Local Lunchbox: PDQ Egg Salad

A daring and speedy way to remove those shells and get lunch done.

With the new school year, we’re back to making regular batches of egg salad. If you have chickens or buy local eggs, you know that they are a hassle to peel. Actually, when I encounter one of those eggs where the shell/membrane seems to be bonded to the white like Gorilla Glue, I say things like #&*!*! and &%!*&!

I’ve heard many traditional remedies:

  • poke a hole in the raw egg with an thin embroidery needle
  • boil them in vinegar
  • boil them with baking soda
  • peel them under running water

In the rush to make school lunches, I don’t have time for any of this guesswork. So, I use a different method.

Warning: it is edgy and mercenary.

I cut those hard-boiled eggs* in half with a chef’s knife. Then, I use a teaspoon to scoop out the egg into a bowl.

I know: what about the shells? You’d be surprised how the shells–much sturdier than industrial eggs–do not shatter. There are a few bits here and there, but the membrane keeps them away from the interior.

You can only do this with local eggs and when you want them mashed up. In other words, for making deviled eggs, I’m going to have to come up with something else. Honestly? I wait for potlucks to enjoy those pesky and delectable snacks.

I do take care with the spoon to avoid adding any shell to the bowl–and I do a spot check while stirring.

But when you’re doing a whole batch of egg salad with local eggs that are less than 10 days old, this is the speediest method there is. Do you dare to try it?

*Reliable hard-boiled eggs: I learned this method from a Cook’s Illustrated magazine years ago and it works every time. Cover the eggs you want to hard boil with cool water by 1 inch. Put the pot on to boil uncovered. As soon as it reaches a full boil, remove it from the burner, cover it and set a timer for 12-15 minutes. (Why the range? It depends on where you live. At my elevation 4,200 feet, the eggs need 15 minutes. In Seattle, they took 12. You’ll have to experiment a bit to find the precise temperature but once you find what works, it will work every time.) Cool the eggs as rapidly as you can and peel them when they’re cool enough to handle.

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