Saturday, August 26, 2006

In Praise of the Humble Deviled Egg....

I have been enjoying a recent email correspondence with MéLisa, of Sew Little Thyme. She is the proud owner of about 2 dozen chickens, and I've been very interested in hearing more about that. (You definitely need to check out her chicken themed bathroom, as well.)

As a natural progression from the chicken discussions, we've moved on to eggs and egg recipes. It's been downright Bubba Gump-ish at times; simply substitute "egg" for "shrimp"...
You can make 'em scrambled, or poached, or boiled, or a Denver Omelet, or Eggs Benedict, or.....

All of which is a roundabout way of saying that I've been thinking about deviled eggs. Schecky is simply mad about them, and it's been a while since I made any around here. So tonight was the night...

First, a little history: it is my understanding is that these are called "deviled" to indicate that they are highly seasoned. Other theories attribute it to the fact that they are so good that they're sinful. You can find more detailed explanations here and here and here.

Although there may be some ambiguity about the name, one thing is certain: They. Are. Really. Really. Good.
Here in the South, they are a staple at picnics and potlucks. I have contributed these to a number of both, and I've yet to bring any leftovers home. They always go quickly...

I tend to think of them as a summertime food; however, in Bubba's family they wouldn't think of having a family celebration without them. Birthdays, Church Suppers, Easter - even Christmas Eve dinner and Thanksgiving! To be honest, the latter two seem kind of odd to me, but I'm keeping my mouth shut - I don't want to get them taken off the menu!

a properly boiled egg
with no green line around the yolk
To make a great deviled egg, you've got to start with a properly hard-boiled egg. And that means no icky green line around the yolk! You get that part right, and the rest of the process is pretty forgiving...

I know, I know - the argument can be made that "what does it matter? You're just going to mash it all up!" Yes, exactly - you're going to mash it all up and that icky green stuff makes your egg filling come out dingy and grayish. And none of us want that.
Although, in the interest of fairness and full disclosure, I do feel duty-bound to report that the green stuff won't hurt you, or even change the taste of the egg at all. It's purely cosmetic. However, it sends the message to the world that you either don't know or don't care enough to make a good egg. And again I reiterate, none of us want that, do we?
(I'll get off my MarthaStewart soapbox now....)

So - how do you get that beautiful green-free egg? Glad you asked...
  1. Place eggs in a single layer in a saucepan that is large enough to hold them easily.

  2. Cover eggs with at least one inch of water over the tops of the shells.

  3. Place pot on stove, over medium-high heat - it will remain there until water begins to come to a nice boil.

  4. Once that nice rolling boil begins, remove the pot from the heat and cover with a well-fitting lid.

  5. LEAVE IT ALONE for 17 minutes. Leave the lid on - no peeking!

  6. Once the 17 minutes is up, use tongs or a slotted spoon to remove the eggs from the hot water, and place them into a bowl of ice water (which you have already prepared and have waiting). The eggs are going to chill for 2 minutes.

  7. While the eggs are chilling, take the original pot, which still has the hot water on it and return to medium-high heat. Hopefully, you can get it to boil again in that amount of time, but if it's not a full boil, don't sweat it.

  8. After two minutes, remove the eggs from the ice water, and place them back into the boiling water for 10 seconds. I usually do only 1 or 2 eggs at a time. This additional boil will make them much easier to peel. Which is a good thing, because peeling eggs is a pretty unpleasant job.

  9. After theadditionall 10 second boil, place the eggs back into the ice water bath - where they can stay until you're ready to use them! Although, if you're not going to eat or use them fairly soon, I might have you go ahead and store them in the fridge. You can either leave them in the water, or go ahead and take 'em out.

And there you have it - the perfect hard boiled egg! Ready for slicing onto a salad, or making egg salad sammiches, or - best of all - devil-ing!

Honestly, you've done the hard work - once you've got the egg cooked right, it is really hard to mess up a deviled egg. Have some fun with it. Essentially, all you are going to do is slice each egg in half lengthwise; remove the yolks; smash them up with mayonnaise and the seasonings of your choice, then place the resulting mixture back into the waiting whites.
There are a million different recipes out there, to suit every taste and preference. In fact, even though I tend to like to have a recipe on hand for most things (although I often deviate from it), I've been making deviled eggs for so long that I pretty much just wing it with what I have on hand.
But for those of you who are just starting out, and would like a little help with the egg-yolk-to-other-stuff ratio, here is a nice recipe to get you started: Very Nice, Basic Deviled Egg Recipe.
Because to me, if it doesn't have the holy trinity of mayonnaise/pickle relish/mustard, it may still be edible, but it's not a real deviled egg! 'Cause, as you know, I have some very definite opinions about Southern food!

Deviled Eggs

The eggs that I made tonight had a mixture of:
  • Miracle Whip/Sour Cream
    because I had them in the fridge, and I was out of mayo
  • Dijon Mustard
    in the mood for a little pizzazz!
  • Pickle Relish
  • Tabasco Sauce
    I often use a drop or two of this, instead of salt. But I like Tabasco. Most stuff can benefit from a dollop of the stuff. Kind of like my thoughts on vanilla in baked goods.
I sprinkle paprika on them, just to give them a little color - because, bless their little eggy hearts, they aren't a pretty food. Sometimes I use cayenne pepper on ones for me and Bubba. Sometimes I sneak a tiny bit of cumin in, or vary the type of mustard - just go with what you like!

If these were for company, I'd maybe put the teeniest sprig of parsley atop each one. Just to show off. If you really want to show off, you can use a pastry bag to pipe the filling back into the whites. I almost never do that because I like the "homemade" look better, and I find that cleaning out the pastry bag is a huge pain.

And, voila!, everything you ever wanted to know about deviled eggs. And then some...


autum said...

Thanks for the egg cooking tips. I never knew there was a way to prevent the green ring. Now I want a deviled egg, but (sorry) not with Miracle Whip. It's gotta be mayonaise and preferably Dukes.

Missy said...

Now you have me wondering if it is possible to make a meal out of deviled eggs...mmmmmmmm. Oh, and it's SUNDAY! The perfect day for deviled eggs. Gotta go to the store and get some eggs, see if I have mustard,.........

MéLisa said...

OOppps! I managed to mess up my first comment! Let's try again.

Auh ha! I can make a picture perfect lattice top Strawberry Rhubarb pie, from scratch, but always seem to mess up hard-boiled egg. I usually over cook 'em. Thank you for the secret!

No no! Autum! Miracle Whip for sure! & Jalapeno mustard, Tony Chachere's seasoning, topped with Hungarian paprika. Midwest, meets New Orleans with a little Hungarian mixed in deviled eggs!

LLA said...

Autum - I agree with you completely - both on the use of the mayo, and your particular brand!
Although, I was too lazy to stand by my convictions and go to the store once I realized we were out.

Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy the Miracle Whip - I think it's because growing up, we never had it in the house because my mom thought it was trashy (she's probably right!) But for deviled eggs, it should be mayo.

Using a blend of Miracle Whip and sour cream kept the MW taste from being too overwhelming, I think.

Missy - of course you can! In fact, that's pretty much what we had last night. I was cleaning out the fridge so we had a small salad and a bowl of soup to accompany our eggs!

MéLisa - Strawberry Rhubarb pie sounds awesome!!!

bekka said...

oh now you've started a carving for deviled eggs. love 'em. it's not an occasion without them. sigh... we fight over them at my in-laws' house. and i'm the "official deviled egg maker" in the family. one time my SIL made some, and they were not as good as mine. everyone was nice and tried hers, but there were a good dozen of hers left over while mine....... nothing left. all gone.

thanks for the tips. always wondered about that green stuff.

Rohanknitter said...

Yum! We like our d. eggs with mayo, horseradish, celery salt and a bit of grey poupon.
Thanks for the tip on getting eggs to peel easier -- we have chickens and getting fresh eggs to peel can make me crazy!

Editrix said...

At last, an area where our tastes diverge . . . I can't stomach any non-integrated egg. (Scrambled/omeletted = integrated, poached/fried/hard-boiled = segregated -- at least in my idiosyncratic worldview!) More for the rest of the world, I guess!

beccamonster said...

Ah, I understand the full egg process now. I've never had too much trouble peeling eggs before, but I rarely buy eggs myself, and the ones in the house are usually not organic and/or fresh.

I am curious to try your technique next time, just to compare ease of peeling.