Devilled Eggs

Deviled Eggs

Do you like deviled eggs? Say “no,” and you’re either a calorie-obsessed freak, or you’re lying. (You may also be a member of a rare third category that despises egg yolks in any form. I have a friend who belongs to this latter group, though I strongly believe that the distaste for the egg’s better part is firmly rooted in calorie obsession, so those two cohorts can for all practical purposes be combined.)

We appear to have entered the golden age of egg-deviling here in Portland. Thanks to local chefs who share my affinity for what is the ideal combination of fat (yolk), salt, and tang (some type of vinegar), deviled eggs are everywhere.

The first place I noticed deviled eggs as a regular menu feature was the local bar and hipster circus Ron Toms. For a measly four bucks, the eggs arrive in a quintet, prepared exactly as you remember from childhood church picnics: fluffy thanks to a generous amount of mayo and tangy courtesy of ample acid. I asked my server which ingredient was used to furnish tang, but she had no idea. I’m guessing red wine vinegar.

Laurelhurst Market’s deviled eggs are excellent renditions of the American norm, but are spruced up with thin slices of guanciale, a baconlike cured meat made from pork jowls. Beaker and Flask serves deviled eggs with bits of smoked trout whipped into the mix, and Evoe reportedly makes a version that’s breaded with brioche crumbs on the yolk side, then grilled. Best of all, pricing seems to be rather universal in Portland. Most places charge just four dollars.

Probably the best deviled-egg-like-thing I’ve tried was at a bar in Pamplona, Spain. The place was called Rio (if my memory serves), and its specialty pincho (tapa) was a deviled egg sheathed in a tempura-like batter, then fried. Served with red vermouth on the rocks and an anchovy-stuffed olive, it was a knockout. Imagine your favorite deviled egg with an extra dimension: crunch. I would love to see a similar version in PDX.

I’m not sure what’s driving the fascination with deviled eggs, but I’m not complaining. For you home cooks, I’ve included my own recipe for deviled eggs. It’s pretty hard to screw up, and easy to improvise.

My Deviled Eggs

1 dozen eggs
1/2 cup mayo (you can use less, but why?)
1 tsp good French mustard (not the same as “French’s” mustard)
1 tsp umeboshi plum vinegar (an amazingly flavorful Japanese vinegar)
2 tbsp small capers
Salt and pepper to taste
A handheld immersion blender
A clean plastic bag (a freezer-size Ziploc bag is ideal)

First, you need to boil the eggs. There are many methods for perfect boiled eggs, but our friend Kat informed us of a method that works perfectly every time. Submerge all 12 eggs in cold water in a heavy-bottomed pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, immediately remove pot from heat, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes are up, drain, rinse eggs with ice-cold water and peel. The eggs will be perfectly cooked and will break free from their shells with no resistance.

Once peeled, cut the eggs in half, dump the cooked yolks into a large mixing bowl, and set egg white halves aside. Combine a couple of pinches of salt with the vinegar until salt dissolves. Add the vinegar, mayo, and mustard to the mixing bowl. Use your immersion blender to thoroughly combine ingredients until the mixture resembles a mousse (this is the magic of the handheld blender). Finely chop capers and fold them in. Finish with salt and pepper to taste.

Here’s the fun part: Using a rubber spatula, remove filling from bowl and put in into the freezer bag, concentrating the mass into one corner. Using scissors, cut a quarter inch off the corner of the bag and squeeze the filling uniformly from the bag and into the halved egg whites. I prefer deviled eggs with lots of filling, so I fill only about 20 halves instead of 24. The unused egg whites will make for an excellent snack.

You can garnish your deviled eggs with paprika if you like. You can also substitute olives, anchovies, bacon, prosciutto, roasted peppers, or anything salty and flavorful for the capers. It’s pretty hard to screw up deviled eggs.