Breezy, blustery March makes us yearn for spring, especially on our plates. But there’s one problem. “Even though we start to think it’s spring, there really isn’t much local produce ready yet,” says Howard Hanna, chef-partner at The Rieger in the Crossroads. “Instead of longing for asparagus, morels and peas, my mind went to a great ingredient that is available all year, but has always been a symbol of spring—the egg.”
In this dish, Hanna takes a modern Midwestern approach combining two familiar things that almost everyone likes—deviled eggs and Caesar salad. He uses local farm eggs, most often from Campo Lindo in Lathrop, Missouri, and baby romaines, Little Gems, or Buttercrunch lettuces from Crum’s Heirlooms in Bonner Springs, Kansas, or hyper-local urban farm Missing Ingredient in Kansas City. He also makes his own “anchovies” using Missouri trout sardines that he cures in-house. “They have a bright, light, clean flavor that people who may think they don’t like anchovies might be surprised by,” says Hanna.
Deviled Egg Caesar
8 oil-packed anchovies (from a tin), chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
Reserved eggs from Deviled Eggs
½ tsp. Dijon mustard
1½ Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
1½ cups grated Pecorino Romano
¾ cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 cups canola oil
6 thin angled slices of baguette
Olive oil for drizzling
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 hearts of romaine, cleaned, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
12 white anchovy fillets
10 black olives, pitted
3 ounces Parmesan, shaved into strips with a vegetable peeler
2 Tbsp. finely chopped chives
For deviled eggs, bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Gently add eggs, cover, and turn off heat. Cook ten minutes. Transfer eggs with slotted spoon to a bowl of ice water. When cool, peel eggs and pat dry. Trim off 1/2 inch from both ends. Cut two eggs in half crosswise (the opposite of the usual for deviled eggs), and reserve them for the Caesar dressing. With the remaining four eggs, make one cut crosswise so that they are separated into a 2/3 piece and a 1/3 piece. Gently separate yolks from whites. Cover and refrigerate whites. Press yolks through a fine mesh strainer into a mixing bowl. Combine with remaining ingredients. Transfer yolk mixture to a piping bag and refrigerate.
For Caesar dressing, combine all ingredients except oil in a blender until smooth. With blender still running, slowly drizzle in oil until it emulsifies. Adjust seasoning. Cover and chill.
For croutons, drizzle with olive oil and season. Bake at 350 degrees F until golden brown. Cool then break into 24 shards and toss with 4 tablespoons Caesar dressing. Reserve.
For salad, roll white anchovy fillets, skin side down and tail end away from you, into tight cylinders. Slice olives in half horizontally. In small mixing bowl, season romaine, then toss with enough dressing to coat evenly. Refrigerate any remaining dressing.
To assemble, arrange 3 egg white pieces standing up on each plate. Pipe each piece with deviled egg puree until overfilled and a peak on top. Pipe remaining deviled egg puree randomly. Sprinkle with paprika. Arrange romaine, croutons, Parmesan, anchovies, and black olives around the eggs. Sprinkle with chives and black pepper.