Monday, December 3, 2012

Deviled eggs assure potluck popularity

No matter the occasion for a party or potluck, deviled eggs are usually the first food to disappear from the buffet table. That's as true for holiday office parties as it is for summer picnics.

And why not? Deviled eggs are as tasty as they are tidy to eat.

The recipe below is technically a stuffed egg, not a deviled egg, because it doesn't contain cayenne or mustard or another spicy ingredient. Instead, these eggs are flavored with herbs, which add fresh flavors and beautiful flecks of color.

I have three hints for making deviled eggs. The first might surprise you: Use old(er) eggs. Try to buy them at least a week before you hard-cook them. That's because as eggs age, they shrink away from the shell slightly, making them easier to peel. And take your time peeling them. This is not a task that can be rushed. I once read that to peel eggs easily, you can cut them in half and scoop the egg away from the shell. Trust me, that doesn't work. I have discovered, however, that a salad fork can work better than a spoon to separate the egg from the clinging membrane between the white and the shell.

The next hint is to use a potato ricer to mash the yolks. This device forces food through thin holes about the diameter of a grain of rice. (That's how the ricer got its name.) Use a ricer, and your yolks (or mashed potatoes) will be fluffy and free of lumps. No ricer? Use a hand-held potato masher or even a wooden spoon, but be gentle and try not to compact the yolks as you mash them.

Finally, taste as you blend the yolks with the other ingredients. Some herbs are stronger than others, depending upon the time of year and how fresh they are. The amount of salt and vinegar you need will vary with the type of mayonnaise you use. I try to keep Duke's Mayonnaise on hand. This Southern brand, with a flavor close to homemade, migrated north in recent years. If your market carries it, give it a try.

Yield: 36 servings

18 large eggs
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons finely minced fresh herbs (such as dill, parsley and chives), plus more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
Salt, optional

Place eggs in a single layer in a large pot. Cover with water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as the water boils, cover the pan and remove from heat. Set the timer for 17 minutes.

Have ready a big bowl of ice water. As soon as the timer goes off, transfer the eggs to the ice water. Let sit until cold.

Roll eggs gently on the counter to crack the shell, then peel. Eggs are generally easier to peel under running water and if you start with the wider end.

Cut peeled eggs in half lengthwise; pop out the yolks. Arrange the whites  on a dish or platter. Force yolks through a ricer into a large bowl. (If you do not have a ricer, mash with a potato masher or a wooden spoon.) Stir mayonnaise, herbs and vinegar into yolks. Taste; add salt and more herbs and vinegar if desired.

Spoon yolk mixture into egg halves or, for a prettier presentation, use a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. To garnish, sprinkle with herbs.

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  1. Every family holiday has deviled eggs on our table. One very upscale restuarant I visited had deviled eggs on their appetizer menu! However, they had hidden "surprises" under the egg yolk filling such as sundried tomatoes. I was also thinking bacon bits or kalamati olives. My sister makes the best and she finally revealed her "secret" ingredient--Miracle Whip!

  2. I have found a pinch of baking soda in the water, when I make my hard boiled eggs makes the shells come off much easier. I cover the eggs in cold water, bring it to a boil, take it off the stove and let it sit, tightly covered, for 20 minutes. The shells come off easily.