There are a lot of people who freak out a little when they draw deviled egg duty. Because it’s something that’s been such a mainstay of the party scene for so long, everyone knows how they’re supposed to taste and look and -let’s be honest- if your grandma, mom, or Aunt Molly didn’t share deviled egg tricks with you, the little beasts can be awfully stressful to make.
Is there anyone out there who has run to the store to buy eggs to make deviled eggs (or gone out to the chicken coop to grab fresh eggs for the project), popped them in the pan, boiled and cooled the eggs and then been utterly frustrated by the shells pulling off great chunks of hard boiled eggs? Yeah. I’ve been there, too. I’m here to tell you it isn’t your fault. Well, at least not in the way you think it is. You do not lack the ability to peel an egg, you just have eggs that are too fresh.
If you have eggs fresh from the hen house, they will be difficult to peel at best and brain-explodingly frustrating at worst. If you have the time, you should wait at least seven to ten days before trying to boil and peel those eggs. If you get them from the store, read the expiration or sell-by date. If it is three to five weeks from now, those eggs might be too fresh to peel.
Before you throw up your hands and think all is lost, though, there are a few tricks to getting great hard-boiled eggs without a green ring that work even with fresh-ER eggs. I can’t explain why they work from a scientific stand point, but I can tell you they work for me and my one or two day old fresh-from-the-chicken eggs.
To begin with, grab the oldest eggs in your refrigerator, but we’ve already covered that.
Put your eggs in a single layer in the pan. Don’t double up. Don’t ask me why, just don’t do it.
Cover the eggs by at least an inch but preferably closer to two inches of cool tap water.
Add a hearty splash of vinegar to the water.
Bring the water to a full rolling boil, put a tight fitting lid on the pan and SHUT THE HEAT OFF. I’m not kidding. Leave it alone.
After fifteen minutes, immediately and I do mean RIGHT AWAY, move that pan to the sink. Using the lid to hold back the eggs, pour the hot water out of the pan.
Using the lid to hold the eggs in the pan, give the pan a couple of sharp shakes back and forth, up and down.
Remove the lid and let cold tap water run over them for about three minutes.
Use the back of a regular old eating teaspoon to rap the egg all over under running water then flip the spoon over and ease the tip of the spoon in between the shell and the egg. Use the contour of the spoon against the egg to pull the shell away. The water should help get all the excess pieces of shell off of the egg.
Repeat until done. The longer you wait to peel them, the tougher they are to peel. This accounts for why every jar of my post-Easter Yooper Pickled Eggs looks as though an angry two year old who lacks opposable thumbs peeled them.
Now that you have gotten the hard part out of the way, let’s talk filling. The filling itself is simple, but a few things will ensure that you have the ultimate deviled egg experience. I like to keep the filling simple and a touch retro.
Deviled eggs are not on the cutting edge of food fashion. I acknowledge that. There is something so comforting about seeing them on a party buffet table, though, isn’t there? No matter what else is out there, no matter how exotic the rest of the choices are, you know there’s going to be something you love to eat. Such is the real draw of the deviled egg.
Just because they’re retro doesn’t mean they have to be predictable, though. If you have a great deviled egg base (in my case, mayonnaise and Dijon mustard), you can keep the traditionalists happy AND it can serve as the platform for any number of strong toppings to keep things exciting. I like my deviled egg filling to be flawlessly smooth and I have a trick to share to make that happen, too. I present my magic deviled egg wand.
Yes. My magic wand is a potato ricer. It makes the silkiest work of squishing egg yolks outside of forcing all the business through a fine mesh sieve. I don’t pull a restaurant paycheck anymore, so I’m NOT going to be the girl working egg yolks through mesh. The ricer does the job beautifully and with far less effort and cleanup.
Once you’ve blended the yolks in with the mayonnaise and Dijon mustard, you can opt to spoon the filling or pipe it into the egg white halves. I pipe because I like the look of it.
I leave some of them plain for the old school crowd and then go to town on the others. Green olive tapenade, spicy chili crisp (or chili garlic sauce), candied jalapenos and bacon jam are some of my favourite things to throw on top of deviled eggs. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s fun to look at a platter and have an array of colours and flavours staring back at me.
So talk to me. Have you ever had a panic moment over hard-boiled eggs or are you an expert? If you are an expert, do you have any hard-boiled egg tips to share? What’s your favourite deviled egg topper or recipe?
Best Basic Deviled Eggs with Topping Ideas
To Make the Deviled Eggs:
- 12 chicken eggs
- splash of vinegar
- 1/4-1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1-2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- salt and black pepper to taste
- Green olive tapenade
- Bacon jam
- Spicy Chili Crisp or Chili Garlic Sauce
- Candied Jalapenos
- crumbled crispy bacon
- roasted red pepper strips
- roasted red pepper spread
- minced green onion or chives
- Place eggs in a single layer in a heavy pot that has a tight fitting lid. Cover the eggs by 1- to 2-inches of cool tap water. Add a splash (a tablespoon or so) of cider vinegar to the pan. Place the pan over high heat and bring the water to a full rolling boil. As soon as it hits the full rolling boil, clamp the lid in place and shut the heat off completely. Let the eggs stand, undisturbed for exactly 15 minutes.
- When the 15 minutes have passed, carefully carry the pot to the sink and use the lid to hold the eggs back while pouring off the hot water. Give the pan a couple of sharp shakes back and forth and up and down to break the shells a bit. Let a stream of cold tap water pour over the eggs for about 3 minutes.
- Working with one egg at a time, use the back of an eating teaspoon to rap the egg all over and break the shells into tiny pieces. Flip the spoon over, hold the egg under a thin stream of cool water and ease the tip of the spoon between the broken shell and the egg. Use the contour of the spoon to pull the shell away from the egg. The running water should remove any leftover shell fragments. Lay the peeled egg on a clean towel.
- Repeat with the remaining eggs.
- Slice the eggs in half lengthwise and pop the yolks into a bowl (using a spoon to help if necessary.) Either smash the yolks with a fork or potato masher or force through a potato ricer, like I do. Mix 1/4 cup of mayonnaise and 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard into the squashed yolks with a fork or whisk until smooth. If you'd like the filling to be creamier, add the mayonnaise 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking after each addition and adjust with the remaining Dijon mustard. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Pipe or scoop the filling into the egg white halves. Serve immediately -topped as desired- or wrap before topping and refrigerate until it is time to serve.