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Dare to Devil Eggs

Digging through the twisted passageways and deep sepulchers inside my trivial foodie brain, I reminisce on something I have not addressed in years; Deviled Eggs or Eggs Mimosa, Russian Eggs or any other name that may have been applied over the years to these gems.

The glorious and ubiquitous finger-food of every gathering under the sun (well, pot-luck gatherings that is) is recognizable by all, and loved by most.

So simple to make, the deviled egg makes me stop to wonder why everything can’t be this easy to create.  

I would be remiss if I didn’t note that I learned how to make these as a wee lad from me dear ole mum.  She can whip these out with the best of them, and as there were eight children in our family, the gatherings were typically large and out of control, so there was always plenty of practice.

Usually situated at the front of the buffet, the deviled eggs were always the first thing to go, and as they were so rich, they seemed to place a temporary hold on our appetites as we ran laps just to try to make room for the rest of the goods on the sideboard.

If you are still pensive of making these due to their name, rest assured that they have no direct link to any satanic cults or evil groupings.  The name merely reflects on the inclusion of spicy foods, i.e. spicy mustard, cayenne pepper and the like in the dish which gives the finished product the slightest kick on the palate.

A couple of years ago, some friends of ours took my wife and I to Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore, a local-inspired restaurant known for buying everything with which they cook from within a 150-mile radius.

The building was stunning, the food was well-prepared and above all, Spike offered up a daily deviled egg; a great concept that many chefs have been offering for a few years now (Spike’s place just happened to be the first at which I had seen it).

It was refreshing to see the deviled egg take its rightful place on a nice and well-meaning menu.  As I wrote about Eggs Benedict recently, the variations of this dish are innumerable and left only to the limits of your imagination.  Just get the notion of that old-fashioned and traditional deviled egg out of your mind and go for it.  Of course, I did you the courtesy of giving you the old-fashioned and traditional deviled egg recipe below, but that’s just to get you started.

When we made these recently a young man noted that his family uses vinegar and sugar, and yet another said “Mayonnaise? Oh, no!  It has to be Miracle Whip!” with a marked enthusiasm.

So as we stood around sampling the eggs, it was a good teachable moment for the young ones to know that there is more than one way to cook an egg.  There are many preferences and cooking styles to take into consideration.

If someone is offering an Asian tasting menu, wouldn’t it be reasonable to use some wasabi and soy in the mix?  Never having tried it, I’m not sure but it seems like it would make sense.

How about if you wanted to keep it local and regional?  Why not use some crabmeat, scallops or shrimp in the creamy filling?  Old Bay would spice it up nicely and the regional flare is there.

Either way, we need to realize that this is a staple dish; one that all cooks, young and old, should master as part of their repertoire.  

As many upscale dinners as I have cooked, there are quite a few in which I have included deviled eggs (some from quail eggs, but they’re hard for most people to find), and the whimsy of the dish always delights the guests.

And the last time I checked, that’s what this business is all about, isn’t it?

Deviled Eggs

For 1 dozen pieces

6 ea. Medium eggs

2 tsp. Sweet relish

A pinch cayenne pepper

Mayonnaise as needed

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

Salt & Pepper as needed

  1. Place the eggs in cold salted water and bring to a full boil
  2. Immediately turn down to a simmer and set the timer for 12 minutes.  This ensures that the whites don’t toughen and that the yolks don’t turn green, a side-effect of overcooking
  3. Drain the eggs and then run cold water over them to cool them quickly
  4. When they are cool enough to handle, peel the eggs without breaking the whites
  5. Carefully split the eggs in half with a sharp knife and, using a spoon if necessary, remove the yolks without splitting the sides of the eggs
  6. Combine all ingredients in a bowl (minus the egg whites of course) and combine with a fork, smashing to ensure that it is a smooth mixture short of the relish chunks
  7. Scoop the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a star-tip and pipe your filling into the shells
  8. Top with paprika and serve

Variations:  Add Old Bay and crabmeat for a distinctively Maryland deviled egg.  Adding country ham and scallions is another favorite around here.  Use your imagination (a common theme throughout this column if you couldn’t tell.  Just have fun with it)