And you probably already have one in your utensil caddy.
When it comes to crowd-pleasing sandwiches, Southerners know exactly what they're doing. We pick up Mama's recipe cards, find her egg salad, chicken salad, or ham slider recipe, and listen to our guests ooh and aah over our party-perfect spread. These potluck favorites are Southern classics for a reason: they're fail-proof, oh-so-yummy, and easy to make in bulk.
Without a doubt, egg salad is set apart for its inexpensive and tasty formula for a large crowd. While some recipes for Southern egg salad use relish, celery, or dill to deviate from the traditional mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and pepper technique, we can all firmly agree that the principle of egg salad sandwiches shouldn't be messed with. No avocado in place of mayonnaise, no leaving out the yolks, and no skimping on the condiments. We do, however, differ in how we prepare the dish.
I asked around the office – even Southern Living editors have different takes on preparing their egg salad. Some folks said they chop up each hard boiled egg with a knife into smaller pieces. Others said that a fork was their tool of choice, using good ol' elbow grease to mash up the boiled eggs into small strands. Surprisingly, a technique that my Mama taught me – one I thought was a universal way of making egg salad – seemed strange to most people I asked.
Her trick? Mash your eggs with a potato masher.
If you've got a potato masher at home – referring to the kind that has the "waffle" head – you could save yourself plenty of sore muscles. If you don't, there are a handful of inexpensive options on the market; you could easily find one that'll do the trick under $15. A potato masher "chops" boiled eggs into perfect, uniform bits in a matter of seconds. You could be making egg salad for a crowd of one hundred; throw your boiled eggs into a bowl, and mash away.
One caveat to this trick: if your eggs aren't directly underneath your masher, they sometimes slip around in the dish. To solve this problem, push firmly and squarely down on the boiled egg, making sure that the masher goes to the bottom of the bowl and through the egg completely.
Beyond being a huge time-saver, this technique yields a silky, creamy egg salad. Bits of yolk begin to break down in the mayonnaise, giving a thicker, heartier texture to your recipe. You also avoid large chunks of cooked egg white showing up while you're spreading onto sandwiches.
Although we all have our ways of customizing egg salad recipes, I haven't found one quite as reliable as my Mama's. Once you've tried this simple technique, you'll never go back to cutting up your eggs individually.