Home on the Range
March 25, 2012
The deviled egg is a confusing contraption. First the yolk is popped out. Then it's stuffed back in. Raising the question: Why?
The recipe seems bedeviled by circular reasoning, redundant engineering, chicken-and-egg futility. Best solved simply: It's delightful.
The ordinary hard-cooked egg is an admirable invention — impressive architecture, clever packaging, pleasing contrast of colors. It's good, in a sturdy, plain, all-I-could-find-for-lunch way. The deviled egg, fashioned from the same raw material, offers all that, plus charm, fluff and flavor. In other words, it's better than good.
A condition best explained by this: Butter.
Many a picnic hostess holds fast to the belief that the deviled yolk must be mashed with mayonnaise. Many an hors d'oeuvre professional insists on bacon drippings.
Butter is better. It offers sweet, fresh-clover creaminess that complements — even flatters — the yolk. Offset by a spoonful of mustard — the devilish kick in the deviled egg — it yields a stuffing stuffed with nothing but the good stuff. Which is, logically, irresistible.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 16 minutes
Makes: 12 stuffed egg halves
6 large eggs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Capers or caviar, optional
Note: Boiling eggs is an inexact art, affected by the size of the egg, the temperature of the fridge, etc. You may want to boil a test egg first to make sure you approve of the results. The finished egg should be cooked through, with a tender white and a set — neither sticky nor chalky — yolk.
Set cold eggs in a single layer in a medium pot. Pour in cold water to cover by 1 inch. Bring just barely to a boil. Cover. Pull pot off heat. Let stand 16 minutes.
Remove eggs with a slotted spoon, and submerge in a bowl of ice water. Cool 10 minutes. Crack gently all over, and peel under cool running water, starting at the wide end.
Trim about ¼ inch white from each end. Cut in half crosswise. Scoop yolks into a small bowl.
Add butter, mustard and a pinch of salt to the yolks. Use a fork to mash thoroughly.
Set whites on a platter, open ends up. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Scoop yolk mixture into a pastry bag (or simply use a spoon or knife) and fill whites.
Zest long fine strips of lemon. Top each egg with curls of zest. If you like, fancy things up with a couple of capers or a few grains of caviar. Enjoy.
Leah Eskin is a Tribune Newspapers special contributor. Email her at email@example.com.
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