In praise of the deviled egg
Eggs generally bring to mind weekend breakfasts, of omelets, orange juice and toast.
But when it comes to the deviled egg, you think of Easter. With a dozen or two of crayon-colored, pastel-dyed eggs sitting the fridge, one of the easiest ways to use up those hard-boiled eggs is to turn them into this classic dish.
The culinary tradition goes far beyond any sort of spring holiday. The first records of such egg-utilization date back to ancient Rome, where eggs would be boiled and typically seasoned with broth, oil or wine.
The stuffing practice came about during the medieval period. Various nuts, cheeses and spices acted as the typical fillers. Once the 16th century hit, versions of what we might recognize today became commonplace. Yolks creamed with mustard, cayenne and other spices filled halved, hard-boiled eggs and were served as simple accompaniments to a meal.
While the amounts vary dependent upon the creator, today’s classic deviled recipe calls for just over a handful of humble ingredients – mayonnaise, mustard, relish, onion, S&P and finishing touch of paprika. Come across the right recipe, like my Grandma’s below, and you have a guaranteed crowd-pleaser for nearly any celebratory occasion.
The standard version will always be a standby. However, the city’s chefs know and have shown that deviled eggs lend themselves well to a variety of different renditions. From beets to bacon, four of our culinary creatives give us their menu-worthy recipes.
Grandma’s Classic Deviled Eggs
Makes 12 pieces
4 Tbsp. light mayo
1 tsp. yellow onion, minced
1/4 tsp. prepared mustard
1 tsp. sweet relish
1/8 tsp. salt
Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with cool water so that about an inch of water sits above them. Over medium heat, bring water to a boil, then cover and remove from heat. Let sit for 12 minutes. Drain, and run under cool water.
Cut hard-boiled eggs in half lengthwise. Remove yolks and place in a small bowl. Mash yolks thoroughly. Add remaining ingredients, excluding the paprika, and continue to mash until well-combined. Use a tablespoon to transfer yolk into the 12 egg-white halves, dividing the yolk evenly between the eggs. Lightly sprinkle paprika on top of prepared eggs.
Note: You may wish to hard boil an extra egg and use the additional yolk to increase the amount of filling. Discard half of its white, and use the remaining half to sample your results.
Why Jose Garces of JG Domestic offers deviled eggs on the menu year-round: "Our guests are crazy about deviled egg,” says Garces. “They're a fun snack that’s perfect for ordering with a cocktail at the bar or as a bite before the meal. They were so popular at Village Whiskey we decided to serve them at JG Domestic and at Village Whiskey at Revel in Atlantic City. The response has been overwhelming."
Inspiration for the recipe that follows: "It’s a playful showcase for some of our favorite farm-fresh ingredients: free-range eggs, natural bacon, home-grown fines herbs,” explains Garces. “Whenever possible, we source the 'green' -- the fresh herbs that season and lend the eggs their color - from Luna Farm, my farm in Bucks County, and the eggs come from Luna, as well. The ham, or in this case, bacon, we leave to the pros at Benton's Farm.”
Green Deviled Eggs Recipe
Makes 24 pieces
12 whole eggs, hard boiled, shocked under cold water and peeled
1 Tbsp. Fine Herb Oil (see below)
1 Tbsp. crème fraiche
1 pinch cayenne
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. mayonnaise
½ tsp. Dijon mustard
½ tsp. Country Ham Escabeche (see below)
For the Fine Herb Oil:
1 bunch basil
1 bunch tarragon
1 bunch parsley
1 bunch chive
2 cups spinach
2 cups vegetable or canola oil
1 tablespoon salt
2 quarts water
In a medium pot over high heat, bring water to a boil and then add salt. Continue boiling. Add all of the herbs and remove pot from heat. Allow the herbs to steep in the water for 10 minutes. Strain the herbs and discard the water. Using a cheese cloth, place all herbs and squeeze off the excess water (careful, the herbs will be hot). In a blender, add the spinach and oil and blend for about a minute, until completely blended. Add herbs to blender and puree until completely blended. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Store in the refrigerator.
For the Country Ham Escabeche:
¼ lb. Benton’s Country Ham, brunoise
¼ cup shallots, brunoise
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 piece of clove
½ Tbsp. parsley, finely chopped
¼ Tbsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
In a medium sauce pan over high heat, combine lemon juice, clove, vinegar, light brown sugar and salt, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, immediately turn off heat and bring to room temperature. In a small bowl, combine ham and shallots. Strain lemon, clove, vinegar, sugar and salt mixture over ham and shallots. Toss with oil, parsley, and a few drops of lemon juice.
To assemble: Cut the hard boiled eggs in half, placing yokes in a medium size bowl. Rinse the egg whites in cold water, cleaning off any excess yoke. Store egg whites with the cavity facing down on a baking tray lined with paper towels. Refrigerate.
In a mixing bowl, add the egg yolks. Incorporate the fine herb oil, crème fraiche, cayenne, kosher salt, mayonnaise and Dijon mustard. Mix ingredients until smooth.
Fill egg whites evenly with yolk mixture. Top with country ham escabeche. Serve immediately or store covered in refrigerator.
From the menu of Supper
Why Chef Mitch Prensky offers deviled eggs on the menu year-round: “Simply put, they are tasty, versatile, fun and loved by most everyone,” says Prensky. “Since we focus on offering the best of American cooking, deviled eggs are a natural extension of that focus.”
Inspiration for the recipe below: “In the past five years, we have offered approximately 200 different varieties of deviled eggs on our daily selection [at Supper],” says Prensky. “Many of these are inspired by an ingredient, a classic dish or some other strange idea that pops into our heads. Beets and blue cheese are a classic flavor combination, so we decided to incorporate that into this iteration.”
Beet Deviled Eggs with Smoky Blue Cheese
(Makes 12 pieces)
6 eggs, hard boiled, peeled and halved with yolks separated out into a bowl
3 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1 tsp. dijon mustard
2 tsp. pureed beets (roasted beets pureed in a blender)
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. chopped chives
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup crumbled smoky blue cheese from (Prensky recommends Rogue Creamery)
In a small bowl, combine yolks, mayonnaise, mustard, beets, lemon juice and chives. Pipe or spoon into boiled egg whites. Top with smoky blue cheese to garnish. Serve.
From the menu of Square Peg
Why Chef Guillermo Veloso offers deviled eggs on the menu year-round: “Easy question – deviled eggs are pure great American comfort food. Great with a beer as well,” says Veloso.
Inspiration for the recipe below: “I was turned on to caramelizing kimchee as it brings out a different flavor profile that I find fuller,” says Veloso. “I thought it would make a great combo with eggs and originally thought omelette. But I ended up boiling up some eggs and mashed the yolks with caramelized kimchee and some Sriracha and it was a banging combination.”
Deviled Kimchee Eggs
Makes 24 piece
12 eggs, boiled peeled and halved
1/2 pound of kimchee well drained and chopped well
Sriracha to taste
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
4-5 Thai chilies (buy ones with leaves attached if possible)
Saute kimchee in oil until well caramelized and concentrated.
Place egg yolks in bowl and work the kimchee in until well mixed. Add Sriracha, to taste. Add mayonnaise and cream well.
Arrange the eggs on a damp paper towel so that they do not slide around. Carefully spoon the yolk mixture into the eggs. (Chances are you may have extra to save for a few more.)
Top with chilies and garnish with leaves if available.
From the menu of Jamonera
Why co-owner Valerie Safran of Jamonera offers deviled eggs on the menu year-round: “We offer the variation below year-round because they are a unique twist on a classic dish and a good start to a meal,” says Safran.
Inspiration for the recipe below: “It started out as an idea for late night comfort food,” says Safran. “We originally put them on our late night menu called ‘kitchen staff snacks’, but customers kept asking for them during dinner hours, so then we started offering it on the regular menu.”
Lancaster Pig Egg
Makes 24 pieces
12 hard boiled eggs, halved and yolks set aside
1 Tbsp. whole grain mustard
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4 cup crème fraiche
1/2 Tbsp. lemon zest
1 Tbsp. chives, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. tarragon, chopped
1 Tbsp. parsley, chiffonade
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 inch slab bacon
Vegetable or canola oil
Pass yolks through a fine meshed sieve. Combine remaining ingredients with the yolks in a large mixing bowl, excluding egg whites. Taste for seasoning, and then scoop into whites.
Lightly coat a medium skillet and heat over medium-high. Place bacon in pan and cook until crispy, about 3 minutes per side. Top each egg with a piece of bacon. Serve.
Grace Dickinson is the author of FoodFitnessFreshAir.com.