Sold My Soul to the Deviled Egg:
“An egg is always an adventure; the next one may be different.” -Oscar Wilde
We were still living in Nashville when we got the (now) infamous photo assignment shooting deviled eggs that will forever be burned in my brain. The art director for the magazine specifically instructed the cover shot to be on a deviled egg plate – a vessel uniquely designed to hold the piquant amuse-bouche. These particular plates are usually round (or more cleverly) egg-shaped glass platters, with twelve to sixteen hollowed slots that cradle the spicy, stuffed egg halves. I thought, “Great! No problem! I’ll use the Fenton deviled egg plate that belonged to my grandmother,” who had amassed a collection of this Depression-era server. As for the deviled eggs themselves – I love them, I grew up with them. They were the quintessential side dish for just about every picnic, holiday and social occasion. And theses tasty morsels are easy to make, too. So I relaxed. Most shoots are riddled with difficult details, but I was positive this one would be a breeze since the plating had been decided and the recipe would be a cinch to make.
A few days prior to the shoot, I thought I’d get a head start and gather my props and pull out that platter. I went to retrieve it from the presumed cabinet, but it wasn’t there. I calmly checked all my storage spaces twice…three times…a fourth. Since we had recently moved into our house (circa 1920′s), I even looked in the beat up unpacked boxes that were still in the scary part of the basement. No luck. I resigned myself to the fact that I would just have to go out and buy a mass-produced version and look for my vintage one later.
I casually went into the mega mart and scanned the entire housewares section. Not seeing any, I asked the sales clerk and she stated that they didn’t sell deviled egg plates. Then she said, “My Aunt Dorie has one. It’s pink…or maybe it’s light blue. Anyway, oh! Aunt Dorie makes the best deviled eggs. I could eat four or five of ‘em. I love deviled eggs!” I concurred, thanked her for her help, left the warehouse giant, and proceeded to the next large retail chain with the same result – zip, nada.
After the 4th failed attempt to procure the elusive piece, I stamped out to my car muttering, “What’s wrong with you people? Doesn’t anyone eat deviled eggs anymore? Ever heard of a deviled egg salad sandwich?” I was beginning to wonder if there were a residual 1980′s “Eggs Are Bad For You!” secret industry campaign that created this exodus of the deviled egg plate from consumer purchase. This is when I really started to panic – I had to find one because we were shooting the next day. I raced from place to place, scouring Music City’s best and worst establishments, squealing tires and sprinting into the stores, breathlessly asking the first uniformed person I could find if they carried the serving platters.
After some odd looks and the 12th “No,” it was official – I was in hell and I started to really hate that evil plate. At this point, I was seriously thinking about getting Aunt Dorie’s number. I had one last Hail Mary up my sleeve – a small antique store way out on the west side of town that carried tons of 1940′s glassware. The shopkeeper must have recognized the look of terror on my face because she gently asked, “Honey, can I help you with something?” I swallowed hard and barely choked out, “Deviled egg plate?” She hopped down from her stool and chirped, “This way!” I nearly collapsed with relief. She led me through the glass maze, picked up a dimpled dish and proudly presented it to me. I accepted it as if it were manna from heaven and profusely thanked her for this saving grace. The good feeling quickly vanished when I looked at the register total. I remember gulping loudly and cringing as I wrote the check, but reminding myself that I was paying the price of not going down in flames.
About a year later, I started seeing deviled egg plates everywhere. Perhaps people (again) got hip to these infallible hors d’oeuvres. And with good reason – they have it all: They’re easy to prepare, economical, they’re beautifully appetizing, self-contained, and have that creamy, fiery mélange that leaves a tang on the tongue. Although deviled eggs have been around in one form or another since ancient Roman times, the mystery of the term “deviled” dates back to the 19th century and refers to the use of zesty seasonings. This recipe includes a few zippy surprises that give this classic a contemporary twist. So, make some for your next party or get-together and I’ll guarantee they’ll disappear – regardless of what you serve them on.
Creamy Deviled Eggs
- 8 large eggs
- 3 tablespoons pickle relish
- ⅓ cup finely minced sweet onion
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon celery seed
- pinch of sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon ground turmeric
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- crushed red pepper flakes
- chopped chives, for garnish
- smoked paprika, for garnish
- Put the eggs in a saucepan with enough cold water to completely cover the eggs. Bring to a boil, cover and remove from heat. Let stand for 17 minutes. Drain the eggs, add cold water to the pan and gently shake pan to slightly crack shells. Let stand for five minutes before peeling under cool, running water. Pat dry. Halve eggs lengthwise. Carefully remove the yolks and mash with a fork in a large bowl.
- With a rubber spatula, combine the yolks, pickle relish and onion. In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, lemon juice, celery seed, sugar and turmeric. Gently fold into the egg mixture and season to taste with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.
- Spoon or pipe the mixture into the egg-white halves. Garnish with chives and a dusting of paprika.
…from the Picture-Perfect kitchen:
Planning: The eggs can be stuffed several hours in advance, covered in the fridge. To make transporting the eggs easier, keep the filling separate – store in a plastic zip-top bag; snip off a corner and pipe the filling into the egg halves just before serving.
Product Purity: Most pickle relishes contain high fructose corn syrup – look for an organic one or chop up some French gherkins instead – small, tart pickles that add a nice bite to the salad. Maille brand is a good choice and is readily available at larger stores.
Presentation: To get clean halves, wipe off your knife after each cut. If you don’t have a deviled egg plate (or you can’t find yours), slice a thin sliver from the rounded bottom of the egg half prior to stuffing to keep them from wobbling on your serving platter. Serve with pickled relishes, like gherkins and olives on the side.