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Heavenly Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs

During our last backyard barbecue, I made my way through the group of friends and neighbors bearing a platter of deviled eggs. By the time I reached the table, more than half of the deviled eggs had disappeared, plucked from the platter by hungry guests. Fortunately, this did not take me by surprise. I am aware of the power of the deviled egg.

Deviled eggs are the perfect appetizer for a casual meal. Most people eat more than one, and some folks practically make a meal of them.

There are countless ways to put together deviled eggs and, although I have included my favorite basic recipes, I seldom make them the same way twice.

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First, a bit about preparing the eggs. You may have noticed during the past ten or fifteen years or so, that the term "hard-boiled", as it pertains to eggs, has shifted to "hard-cooked". To hard-cook a dozen eggs, put them in a pot large enough to accommodate them in a single layer, cover them with an inch of cold water, and put them on the stove to cook just until a full boil is reached. Then, remove them from the heat, put a lid on the pan and wait 15 to 17 minutes (depending upon the size of the eggs). Once the timer goes off, drain and run plenty of cold water over them to stop the cooking process.

This hard-cooking process results in whites that aren't rubbery and prevents the greenish surface on the yolk.

Next comes the often tedious business of removing the eggshells. It's all too true that very fresh eggs are very hard to peel. That's because eggshells are porous, and an egg that has been around for a while has absorbed air, so the air pocket at the broad end of the egg is larger making it easier to get a good start on removing the shell. I'm not suggesting that you use old eggs; but those that are approaching the "sell-by" date are fine.

So now the eggs are all peeled, and here's the basic recipe:

Basic Deviled Eggs

  • 6 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons salad dressing (like Miracle Whip)
  • 1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • Sweet paprika for garnish
Separate the egg yolks from the whites, and mash the yolks in a bowl using a fork or the back of a spoon.

Add the salad dressing, mustard, vinegar and pepper and mix well.

At this point, taste the mixture to determine the amount of salt you want to add. It's easy to over-salt deviled eggs, and I recommend a light hand with the shaker. You may prefer no salt at all.

Fill each of the egg white halves with a dollop of the mixture. If you like, you can put the mixture in a pastry bag and fill the eggs with a decorative pastry tip. Or put the mixture in a plastic sandwich bag, cut off a corner and squeeze the mixture into the whites with a swirl. Sprinkle lightly with paprika.

Refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours before serving to allow flavors to develop.

Deviled eggs made with the basic recipe are simple and delicious. But that doesn't mean you can't improve on perfection. You may want to add:

  • 2 teaspoons finely minced sweet onion (This is a must as far as I'm concerned.)
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced sweet pickle (Sweet pickle relish may be used, but it must be well drained.)
  • 2 teaspoons drained, chopped pimiento
Further experiments may be made with crumbled crisp bacon, chopped chives or capers, and flavors can be varied with the addition of Worcestershire sauce and spices. Also, garnishes need not be limited to paprika; chopped parsley, chives, pimiento, grated cheese and even caviar can be used.

Salad Dressing vs. Mayonnaise
This is where personal taste comes into play. I personally believe the tiny bit of sweetness in salad dressing imparts a more complex overall flavor, but you may prefer the more delicate flavor of mayonnaise. The quantities for both in the basic recipe can be the same, although salad dressing will produce a creamier result. The same is true of apple cider vinegar, as opposed to distilled white vinegar. I prefer the more pronounced tang of cider vinegar, but white vinegar is perfectly acceptable and also interchangeable. Here's a for instance.

Dijon Deviled Eggs

  • 6 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut in half
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced sweet onion
  • 1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish, drained
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • Paprika for garnish
Mix and fill the eggs as stated in the Basic Deviled Eggs recipe.

The possibilities are virtually endless. The proof of that is in Debbie Moose's book, Deviled Eggs, which contains no less than 50 deviled egg recipes, from very basic to very fancy. It's a good read, and I'll conclude with one of her recipes.

Tex-Mex Diablos

  • 6 hard-cooked eggs, peeled, cut in half, and yolks mashed in a bowl
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons cooked corn kernels (fresh, canned or frozen), drained well
  • 2 teaspoons hot chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canned chopped green chiles, drained well
  • 2 teaspoons shredded Monterrey Jack cheese, plus more for garnish
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
Combine the thoroughly mashed yolks with the sour cream. Stir in the corn, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, cayenne, chiles, and Monterrey Jack. Taste, then season with salt and pepper.

Fill the whites evenly with the mixture and garnish each egg half with shredded cheese.

A final note of caution: Keep deviled eggs refrigerated until serving time. Then, in the unlikely event any are not consumed, return them to the refrigerator. Someone will soon find where you've put them, and then they'll disappear.

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