Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Smoked Egg Salad Sandwich & Budvar Czech Pilsner

I live in a house divided by eggs.  There's those who love them (Sarah) and those who definitely do not (that's me).  Don't get me wrong.  Eggs as an ingredient are brilliant.  They make souffl├ęs rise and give breakfast real meaning.  A poached egg over short rib hash?  Absolutely!  Soft boiled, halved and floating in a Tonkatsu ramen broth?  Of course!  A Scotch Egg?  No question there and also the topic of a future post.  But the idea of a plain hard boiled egg (or worse - *gag - a deviled egg!) is something I've never been able to stomach.

That's why when I stumbled onto instructions for smoking eggs, I was both intrigued and unsettled.  Smoked eggs:  Interesting?  Disgusting?  The answer to my egg phobia?  Into the smoker went a brave dozen and thirty minutes later when I pulled them out the transformation was exactly what one might expect a smoked egg to look like:

Aren't these cool?  Don't the grill marks make them look kind of macho?  The color doesn't quite come across in these pictures but I'll tell you it was a rich sepia, golden and brown and appealing even to an egg hater like me.  One note: peeled, soft boiled NOT hard boiled eggs are the way to go here.  Thirty minutes in a smoker completes the hard boiling process and even then, these eggs are firm.  The trick is to find that sweet, soft boiled spot that is just barely hard but cooked enough to peel.  Anymore than that and they'll become overcooked and I think we can all agree that rubbery eggs are shit.

Despite their comely hue, for me the smoke is mere camouflaged.  It's an improvement but at their core, these are still hard boiled eggs and thus still in need of manipulation.  And so the Smoked Egg Salad Sandwich was born.  Seriously you guys, it's a great sandwich and surely the only egg salad you'll ever catch me eating.  I went big and zesty for the accompanying salad flavors  - capers, red onion and coarsely chopped sweet cucumber pickles - but this sandwich would also be good with a simple mayonnaise, mustard and black pepper construction.

 The watercress is also personal preference but I think something as rich as egg salad needs at least a bite of freshness and it adds green and a nice peppery note.  The barbecue potato chips provide crunch, salt and really, well let's be honest, the addition of potato chips never hurt anything.  Any type of sandwich bread will work but nothing conjures nostalgia (or partners with potato chips better) like good old white bread.  Toasted of course.  No one likes a mushy sandwich.

I chose a pilsner to pair with this sandwich.  Budvar Czech Pilsner to be exact.  It's light, it doesn't compete with any of these unique flavors and it's a good lunchtime beer.

Finally, I'd like to dedicate this post to all the other egg haters out there.  Go bravely into a world where you'll grimace at quiches and have to dismay your sweet, 3-year old nephew with the news that, "sorry little buddy, I don't eat those" when he offers up his prize Easter egg.  Make this sandwich, thank me later and claim your place in a culinary landscape where eggs reign supreme.


Smoked Egg Salad Sandwich

For the egg salad:

4 smoked eggs, chopped well
1/3 cup good mayonnaise
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1/4 cup coarsely chopped sweet pickles (OR make fresh beer pickles)
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
2 tablespoons chopped capers
Salt and pepper to taste

For the sandwich:

4 slices, toasted white sandwich bread
2 generous handfuls, barbecue potato chips
1 bunch watercress

Combine the chopped, smoked eggs with the other salad ingredients and mix well.  Set aside in the fridge and chill for at least twenty minutes

Toast the bread and top with the egg salad, then the potato chips and finish with watercress.  Serve and eat immediately.

*note: Do eat immediately.  Like mushy bread, soggy potato chips are a friend to no one.

Pairing Notes
Budvar Czech Pilsner

Like eggs I had convinced myself that I didn't like Czech Pilsners.  Largely this was because I was living in the states and, with rare exception, once they hit USA stores they were old, skunky, with dissipated hops, and little to no head retention.  A recent weekend in Prague, however, where I drank nothing but pilsners that were crisp, bright, creamy and with perfectly dry finishes, cured me entirely.

I chose this beer mainly because of the fresh, balanced flavor.  The pilsner malts are sweet  but the Saaz hops have light herbal aromas and a bright spicy flavor creating a balance that is pleasingly harmonious.  It's this balance that earns these hops the label of "noble hop".

This pairing has contrasting and like flavors.  The smokiness of the eggs is countered by the sweet malts while the creaminess of the mayonnaise is contrasted by the dry finish and refreshing quality of the beer overall.   Similarities to note are the peppery bites of the watercress and red onions and the spicy herb hints in the hops.   The sweet beer pickles compliment the malts as does the subtle sweetness of the sandwich bread.


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