Midsummer: Deviled Eggs
I'm not sure why deviled eggs are so popular. At least, mine are! They're always the first thing to go at every party, and no matter how many I make, even leftovers get devoured quickly.
Historically, deviled eggs were "deviled" by mixing the yolks with soft butter and mustard. Later, the deviling became associated with cayenne pepper or paprika. The popularity of prepared mayonnaise meant that condiment soon supplanted butter as the primary ingredient.
Deviled eggs are perfect for just about any party, but they seem especially lovely tea party, picnic, and summertime fare, so I just had to make them for my Scandinavian Midsummer Porch Party. As you can see in the photo, they were half-gone almost instantly, and totally gone by the end of the night. Despite their relative simplicity, they always seem so festive! They're not difficult or expensive to make, but a few tips will make things a bit easier than you might expect.
Deviled Eggs Recipe
I like to use free range local eggs for my deviled eggs, which makes for super delicious and bright yellow yolks. Slightly older eggs are better for peeling as the albumen of the egg starts to pull away from the shell. So if you've got a dozen eggs that need eating, there's no better way to use them up than deviled eggs. Deviled eggs are best when you boil the eggs the same day you devil them.
1 dozen eggs
Dijon or spicy brown mustard
sour cream (optional)
In a stock pot large enough to accommodate all the eggs in a single layer without touching, cover the eggs with cold water. Cover the pot and place over high heat, bringing it to a full rolling boil. Turn off the heat and leave the eggs, covered, for 15 minutes. Then fish them out (a slotted spoon works nicely) and deposit them in a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process and cool them down. Let them rest at least 10 minutes.
Now for the hard part - peeling them. I find the water method easiest. One at a time, place each egg in a glass, fill a third of the way with water, cover the top with your hand, and shake vigorously. Alternatively, crack the egg all over, peel up a small part, and then place under running water. In both instances, the water gets between the shell and the cooked egg, making peeling easier. Although a perfectly peeled egg is a joy, no one ever complains about a slightly battered one - they all taste the same!
Slice the peeled eggs in half lengthwise and pop the yolks out into a small bowl. Mash the yolks thoroughly with a fork, until no large chunks remain. Then add about a half cup of mayonnaise and 1-2 tablespoons of prepared mustard. Add some sour cream if you like. The yolk mixture should be extra-creamy, but bright yellow from the yolks. Taste and add more mustard or salt as you like. Remember, the whites are bland.
Using a spoon, plop the yolk mixture evenly into the egg halves (use a plastic bag with the tip cut off if you want cleaner piping - also good for transporting the eggs and filling on site for picnics and such), making sure to cover most of the white, not just the hollow left by the yolk. A good deviled egg should be just a bit messy to eat.
Deviled eggs contain egg and mayonnaise, so they should not be left at room temperature for too long. Luckily they're not likely to last long, anyway!
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Sarah Wassberg Johnson has an MA in Public History from the University at Albany and studies early 20th century food history.