Cooking with San Francisco Cooking School: Get your Deviled Egg on!
When I was a kid, deviled eggs were a must at any family gathering or party. I remember sneaking upstairs in my pajamas to spy on the parties my parents were having, mostly in hopes of snagging a deviled egg off the tray and getting away unnoticed.
The eggs have had a comeback lately, showing up on high-end menus, with high end price tags to boot. I say make them at home. They are the ideal foil for any of your favorite savory flavors and, once you have the method etched in your memory, you can make them on the fly and always be the party-pleasing cook.
It starts with quality eggs. You want sunny yellow yolks and this comes from having a great egg, and knowing the perfect cooking method when you hard-boil it. I take note from Julia Child and use her method to hard boil eggs always and, without fail, they turn out consistent every single time. That technique is noted in the recipe below.
Truth be told, older eggs are actually easier to peel then incredibly fresh eggs. It seems odd to ever suggest to someone to use an ingredient that isn’t as fresh as possible but, with eggs, the insides actually begin to contract a bit from the shell as they age. They form a thin pocket of air, making the shells much easier to remove. I’ve heard dozens of old-wives tales about how to pristinely peel an egg but, after many years of doing it myself, I’ll tell you that nothing works better than using an egg that isn’t perfectly fresh (not spoiled, mind you, just not straight from the chicken).
Now is when your blank canvas comes into play. You’re peeled eggs get halved lengthwise and you carefully spoon or pop the yolks into a bowl (notice how beautifully bright yellow the yolks are? Thanks Julia!). Mayonnaise is generally the binder but I’ve had great luck with both sour cream and crème fraiche too. A straightforward recipe, like the one below, usually includes a bit of mustard, some fresh herbs, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. But, who wants plain when you can embellish? I’ve been known to spike mine with toasted cumin and chipotles, cilantro and pickled jalapeno, smoked trout and fresh dill, sriracha and toasted curry powder, or mango chutney and garam masala.
Your goal is to mix most of the ingredients into the yolk mixture, add a binder, and create a relatively smooth filling to either spoon or pipe back into the whites. Garnish is important here too, but be sure it reflects what is inside the dish. Coarse salt works well no matter what’s inside but fresh herbs or toasted spices are nice on top too.
The filled eggs keep well, covered, overnight in the refrigerator. Just pull them out about an hour before serving and add your garnishes at the last minute.
Let your pantry inspire you here. Deviled eggs are a fun way to improvise in the kitchen. Just be sure to write down what you do so you can pass your signature recipes on to friends when they swoon over the final results.
Simple Deviled Eggs
Makes 16 deviled eggs
- 8 eggs
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons minced celery
- 1 tablespoon grainy mustard
- 1 tablespoon minced shallots
- 1½ teaspoons minced fresh dill
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place the eggs in a medium saucepan with cold water to just over them. Heat the pan over medium high heat. When the water comes to a boil, turn it off and cover the pan. Let the eggs rest for 14 minutes then immediately plunge them into a bowl of ice water. The eggs should rest in the ice water for at least 5 minutes, or until cool.
When the eggs are cool, peel them, cut them in half lengthwise, and carefully scoop the yolks into a medium mixing bowl. Place the whites, cut side up, on a serving plate. Use a fork to mash the egg yolks until they are fairly smooth. Add the mayonnaise, celery, mustard, shallots, 1 teaspoon of the dill, 2 tablespoons of the celery, and the cayenne. Sprinkle with a pinch each of salt and pepper and stir well.
Using a small spoon, scoop the yolk mixture into the whites. Alternatively, transfer the yolk mixture to a small plastic bag, cut a ½-inch hole in one corner, and pipe the mixture into the whites. Top the eggs with a sprinkle of remaining dill and celery.
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Simple Deviled Eggs was published in the Winter 2014 issue. © 2014 Edible San Francisco.