Gram’s Deviled Eggs

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Easter and the Boston Marathon were on the same weekend this year. A & S traveled from Seattle to Boston to visit us and to attend the marathon again. They had come last year for it, and, well, it wasn’t exactly the right first Boston marathon to go to. Mom and Dad also joined us, as they usually do for Easter. And some cousins whom we hadn’t seen years contacted us to let us know that they’d be in town for the weekend to visit other cousins of ours whom we had never met, but who had recently moved to Boston. Very quickly, our guest list had grown to 17!

While M& C focused on the main meal, I made the appetizer and dessert. We attempted to keep the menu simple, which is a challenge for us, but when cooking for 17 out of tiny apartment kitchens, simplicity is an imperative. However, I have come to realize that I may be unable to follow such an imperative.

Deviled eggs are a group favorite. They aligned with the Easter theme, and it it was one appetizer, not 3 or 4 like I’d usually try to make. But I neglected to consider the amount of prep work required for a single batch and how exponentially more difficult it would be to prepare enough eggs for 17 guests. Also, since I don’t hard boil eggs frequently, I forgot how critical it is to use eggs that are not extremely fresh. Instead I used eggs from all-organic, grass-fed at the poultry-equivalent of the French Laundry, hand-groomed chickens, which I purchased that very morning. From the difficulty we had shelling them, it seemed that the eggs were possibly harvested just the previous day.  It took my Mom and Dad* almost 2 hours to shell 36 eggs. It may be next Easter before I make hard-boiled eggs again.

Deviled eggs fall into that category of holiday foods that I prefer to have  prepared traditionally. Sure, the more contemporary riffs on the deviled egg – capers, jalapenos, truffles, caviar –  sound delicious. But if I want to experiment with those updates, I’ll have them at a gastropub as an appetizer for Saturday night dinner. For the holiday table, nostalgia enhances the experience. It knits together past and present through shared remembrance of taste that triggers memories of all of the other holidays on which that food was eaten.

When I was young, my mom’s mother, who we affectionately called Gram, always served a platter full of classic deviled eggs surrounded by thick, salty, smoky slices of Hillshire Farms kielbasa as the start to Easter dinner. So for many of us gathering at the dinner table last Sunday, deviled eggs are that nostalgic Easter food. Unfortunately, she never shared a recipe with us. I’ve had to experiment over the years to try to re-create it. The recipe I use is an amalgamation of elements from a variety of recipes online, so, unfortunately, I can’t attribute credit to any one single source. Additionally, the recipe needs to be made to taste – despite the mass produced ingredients it uses, there’s enough variation in ingredient consistency as well as personal taste to require tweaks every time I make it.

Gram’s Deviled Eggs

  • 12 eggs, hard boiled, shelled, cut in half, yolks removed and put into a separate bowl
  • 1/2 c mayo (I use Hellman’s, not miracle whip. Miracle Whip has vinegary sweetness flavor that distorts the taste of the filling.)
  • 3 – 4 Tablespoons Yellow Mustard (I use old fashioned French’s, which has a nice acidity which works better than Dijon for the taste I’m aiming for. Dijon is too sweet.)
  • 2 Teaspoons white vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Spanish or Smoked Paprika for garnish
  1. Hardboil the eggs by placing them on a washcloth in a pan, covering them completely with cold water, and adding a good splash of white vinegar to the water. Bring the water to a boil, then as soon as it comes to a full boil, remove the pan from the heat, cover it, and let it sit for 12 minutes.
  2. Shell the eggs
  3. Slice eggs in half longways, and scoop the yolks into a bowl.
  4. Mash the yolks well with a fork.
  5. Add the mayo and mustard to the yolks. Mix well.
  6. Slowly add the vinegar. The yolk/mayo/mustard mixture should be smooth and creamy, approximately the consistency of frosting. You may not need all of the vinegar. If it’s smooth and needs more tang, consider adding more mustard instead of the vinegar so it doesn’t become too runny.
  7. Salt and pepper to taste. (Be careful how many times you taste because this is the point where it’s so delicious that you could eat so much of the filling there isn’t enough to fill the eggs.)
  8. When ready to serve, set the egg halves on a serving dish.
  9. Fill the empty yolk compartments with the filling. I like to use a pastry bag with a Wilton 6B or 8B star tip to give it an elegant design. But you can also use a 1 gallon ziploc bag with a corner snipped off.
  10. Sprinkle the filling lightly with paprika for garnish. Enjoy!

An alternative fun way to garnish these is to turn them into hatching chicks, which is hilarious, but a ton of work and difficult to replicate the beautiful Pinterest version.

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I’d started to help Mom and Dad shell the eggs, but in my complete inability to truly keep any meal I make for friends or family simple, I had 2 cakes – The Nest Cake and the Limoncello Cake – to frost. Fortunately, I’d baked the cakes the day before, so they were cooled and ready. But it was still a lot of work.

 

* They asked to help. This was not forced labor.

 

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