Initially published in the Virginia Wine Gazette On-line…. but deviled eggs are always in season.
Bring out a platter of deviled eggs at a party and they disappear. They are the perfect party food: you can make them ahead and in quantity, they are easy and people cannot resist them – especially when made with eggs from pastured hens allowed to forage en plein air, eating grass and bugs: those yolks are bright, nutritious and taste like eggs should. Those shells are firm, making boiling a cinch.
Deviled eggs certainly leave room for plenty of variations: you can make them as homey or as trendy as you care. In fact, I just heard of some made with curry powder and crushed pineapple. Are you still allowed to call them deviled if they aren’t spicy? I was told recently by a gentleman from Alabama that they simply call “dressed” where he comes from.
A few tricks that I use when making deviled eggs:
– Smaller eggs are easier to prepare – and easier to eat in one or two bites.
– Put room-temperature eggs in room-temperature water and then boil to prevent the occasional bursting of shell.
– Older eggs (at least 3 days old, 7 days better) are easier to peel than fresh eggs. It’s not an issue (typically) if you buy eggs. But if you have hens or buy directly from a small farm, save your fresh eggs for frying, use the older ones for boiling.
– The day before, put the eggs on their side to center the yolk better.
– Eggs are cooled, cracked and peeled right away. Don’t let them stand in cool water for more than a few minutes and they may become hard again to peel. Just until you can comfortably handle.
– Rub the yolks through a strainer for a perfectly smooth filling. (that is critical, especially if using a pastry bag – do use a pastry bag)
– Use a pastry bag and tip to pipe the filling into whites. It’s so much prettier!
– If you aren’t serving the eggs immediately (within 2 hours), prepare the filling and store them in the pastry bag (Fold both end so the yolks don’t dry out), then refrigerate up to 48 hours until you are ready to pipe it into the egg whites.
For 24 half eggs:
12 eggs from pastured hens
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
A pinch each of ground cayenne, ground coriander, turmeric, pepper & salt
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
To garnish: bits of parsley and cilantro leaves, paprika, capers, sliced olives, sliced cucumber pickles, edible flower, bits of anchovies or smoked trout, etc.
Put the room-temperature eggs in a sauce pan large enough that they all fit in a single layer. Cover with water (to about ½ inch above the top of the eggs). Bring to boil. Lower the heat and boil on medium for 10 minutes.
Transfer the eggs to a bowl of iced water. Gently knock the eggs to crack the shells. Let the eggs cool enough until you can comfortably handle – about 10 to 15 minutes.
Peel. Set the peeled eggs on a clean kitchen towel and gently pat dry.
Halve the eggs lengthwise.
Carefully scoop out the yolks and transfer to a fine-mesh sieve (also called strainer). Put the whites on their serving platter. Using the back of a spoon, rub the yolks through the sieve into a bowl.
Add all the other ingredients (except garnishes) to the bowl. Whisk well to blend. Transfer to pastry bag with star tip and pipe into the egg white halves.
Garnish as desired. Serve immediately (or chill for up to 2 hours)