This recipe to feed a crowd, from "Dinner at Miss Lady's: Memories and Recipes From a Southern Childhood" by Luann Landon (Algonquin Books, $19.95), uses egg yolks with wild abandon. It is useful to know how to make a boiled dressing as well as a homemade mayonnaise; they make a simple dish like chicken salad company-worthy.
Makes 2 cups
4 egg yolks
2 cups light olive oil, peanut oil or canola oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons (or more, to taste) white-wine vinegar
Using an electric mixer and small bowl, beat egg yolks on low speed for 2 minutes.
Add light olive oil, peanut oil or canola oil by droplets, beating all the time.
Season to taste with salt, pepper and white-wine vinegar.
Cousin Mildred's Chicken Salad
9 egg yolks
6 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 cup milk
5 tablespoons butter
1 cup white-wine vinegar
6 whole chicken breasts, poached in broth, skinned, boned, chopped
3 celery hearts, finely chopped
4 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
1 cup peeled, slivered almonds or chopped salted pecans
1 cup mayonnaise, preferably homemade (see recipe)
To make dressing: In a large bowl, beat egg yolks well.
In a medium bowl, mix sugar, cornstarch, salt, dry mustard, celery seed and white pepper. Beat into yolks, then add milk slowly, using an electric mixer.
Transfer mixture to double-boiler and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, adding butter in small bits until mixture is thick and measures 160 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer. (Use a candy thermometer to measure.) Take dressing off heat.
In a small saucepan, heat vinegar very slowly over low heat; when warm, add vinegar a little at a time to dressing, stirring to blend.
Put cold water in bottom of double-boiler.
Cook dressing again slowly in top of double-boiler over medium heat, stirring occasionally until it thickens (120 degrees on a candy thermometer).
Allow it to cool before mixing with chicken and other ingredients.
Mix chicken, celery, hard-cooked eggs and nuts. Add cooked dressing and let stand, covered, in refrigerator overnight.
When ready to serve, add 1 cup mayonnaise.
Serve chilled in a glass bowl or on a large platter garnished with lettuce leaves and parsley or fresh tarragon.