There are certain dishes that I don’t like until I make them myself. For example, this may come as a shock to you, but I used to hate–and I mean hate–macaroni and cheese. I know! But I grew up in a non-cheese household (longtime readers know that my dad hates cheese) so whenever I’d go to someone’s house and there’d be mac and cheese for dinner, I’d have to make up an excuse not to eat it (“I’m allergic,” I’d say.)
But then, once I got into cooking, I made a few mac and cheeses (here’s one here) and once I understood the basic components of the dish–the bechamel, the way the cheese melts into the sauce, the way it all bakes in the oven–I could stomach other people’s mac and cheese because I understood what it was and how it was made.
Now, after last night’s effort, I feel the same way about deviled eggs.
You see them at parties on big silver trays getting passed around, with their piped fillings and their dusting of paprika. I’ve never liked them. The bad ones are kind of dry and gritty and they taste like they’ve been sitting around for a long time.
I’d never think to make deviled eggs myself except for two things: (1) Craig, whenever he sees them at a party or on a menu, goes nuts for them; (2) I watched Anne Burrell’s show this weekend.
Anne Burrell is quickly becoming my new favorite Food Network star. Sure, she can be a bit awkward and cutesy (“Hello my babies,” she says to Brussels sprouts and cauliflower) and sometimes I think she has Tourrete’s syndrome (what’s with that weird Muppet voice she keeps doing?), but her food looks fantastic and her tips are really smart and useful. This is a woman who knows the kitchen, who knows how to make food taste good.
Not only that, she’s inspiring. Specifically: I saw her make two dishes recently that I immediately tried to replicate. One was her liver pate, the other was her deviled eggs.
Ok, so the liver pate? That was something of a disaster. Anne has you saute garlic, capers and anchovies in olive oil and then you add the livers and cook just a few minutes until brown on the outside and then you add white wine. You cook it a bit more and here’s where it gets tricky; Anne says you want it “soupy” when you put it in the food processor. So I put my soupy mixture in the food processor and it was SO soupy that it resulted in… liver soup. I’m not kidding. Here’s a picture, if you dare click the link.
So maybe it was one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever made, but the point is: Anne got me off my butt, into the store, shopping for liver. And, more importantly, I know now that if I ever make liver pate again, I’ll start with a minimal amount of liquid and only add it as I need it. Just blend the livers first.
But the happy story is the story that titles this post: the deviled eggs story.
Anne makes her deviled eggs with truffle oil and chopped up jarred truffles. That was a bit too decadent for me, so I used her technique for perfectly cooked eggs and devised the recipe I’ll post below. As you can see by this empty plate, it was quite a hit:
My distaste for bad deviled eggs entirely vanished; these were good. These were really good. And how could they not be? With fresh cooked eggs, lots of mayo, a squirt of lemon juice (my addition) and dusted with smoked paprika instead of regular paprika, these’d make a convert out of anyone.
Now if only I could convert people to enjoy liver soup, I could get rid of that festering bowl in my fridge.
And now for the recipe.
loosely adapted from Anne Burrell
3 large eggs
1/2 cup – 3/4 cup mayo
a big spoonful mustard (2 Tbs?)
Juice from half a lemon
1. Place the 3 eggs in a pot; cover with cold water, at least by one inch, and pour in a big handful of salt. Put a lid on and bring to a real boil (the pot should be shaking.) When it’s there, remove the pot from the heat, leave the lid on, and let sit, undisturbed, for 13 minutes exactly.
2. Immediately pour out the hot water and pour in cold water over the eggs (this is how I do it, at least.) As the eggs and the pot cool, take an egg, crack it at the top and use the water pressure to help peel off the shell. Dry off the peeled egg and repeat with the other three eggs.
3. Slice each egg in half vertically.
4. Remove the yolks to a bowl–if you have trouble getting them out, use a spoon.
5. Now flavor the yolks (this is where all the flavor comes from). Take 1/2 cup of mayo and stir into the yolks and study the consistency. Do you like it? Do you want it creamier? Add more mayo. (Anne, shockingly, has you add two cups of mayo–but I think that’s WAY too much!) Now flavor this mixture with the mustard, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. You could also add a hit of cayenne pepper if you want it spicy. Taste it. Do you like it? You should really, really like it because this is it! Your only chance to save your deviled eggs!
6. Now’s the fun part. If you have a piping bag, pipe the yolk mixture into the whites. If you don’t have a piping bag (and I didn’t use a piping bag) just spoon the yolk mixture into the whites. Even if it’s messy, it’ll still taste good.
7. Now dust the whole thing with smoked paprika.
And eat. And eat. And eat.
Aren’t they good? Thanks, Anne Burrell, for the inspiration.