Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Great-Grandma's Deviled Eggs

This glass Candlewick platter is the same one my Great-Grandma used. I treasure it.

All my growing up years, even through college and beyond, my great-grandparents hosted Easter dinner (and Thanksgiving and Christmas and…), not to mention every Sunday after church. They always served two meats: either ham or roast beef (or turkey if it was Thanksgiving or Christmas) and always, always, always fried chicken (well, I don’t actually remember fried chicken at Thanksgiving and Christmas). As well as, always, always, always coleslaw, head lettuce and tomato salad, canned green beans and corn, mashed potatoes with milk gravy, real cornbread (not the sweet kind), and white bread. They were originally from the Ozarks in southern Missouri and although they moved to northern California, they didn’t cook like it, which was fine by me!

My favorite meals included Grandma’s deviled eggs as appetizers. The entire family loved them and no matter how many dozen she made, they were all eaten. I watched her make them so many times, often while eating canned black olives off my finger tips, but as I got older she let me help. Grandma never measured, she just eyeballed it. My cousin Karen and I preferred the eggs without the bits of chopped pickle that everyone else liked so Grandma made some special, without pickles, just for us. Grandma was sweet and laughed at our antics as my cousins, brother, and I darted in and out of their small kitchen. She never complained or asked us to go in the other room. She patiently waited for her granddaughters, our mothers, to do that.

Due to her state of health, we had already gone many years without her deviled eggs when Grandma finally went to heaven; then one Easter Sunday I had a craving for those eggs. I decided to see if I could duplicate them and as the true test, I took them to Easter Dinner at my aunt’s house. It was unanimously decided that I had recreated the recipe and would I please write it down since Grandma never had. The problem was I couldn’t because I, too, had eyeballed it. I’ve tried to write it down as I went along many times but have always managed to mess it up, knowing I forgot to include the last addition of mustard or pickle juice. However, now I have a secretary in the form of The Boy. This year while I was eyeballing it, he was taking notes and revising those notes as we went along. He loves to help in the kitchen and he knew this time the most important role he could play was that of recipe clerk. And he did it well.

The Boy was also intrigued with my latest addition of whole eggs made into chickies, which was inspired by Pinterest. You’ll notice that there are only four chickies – because they’re kind of a pain in the @** to make, let alone eat, but very cute and I’ll do a few again next year because The Boy loved them.

In the recipe, you’ll notice that I throw everything into the food processor and then use a pastry bag with a large star tip to fill the eggs. My Grandma never did this. She didn’t even own either of those items. A fork to mash and two teaspoons to fill were what she used so if you don’t have a food processor or pastry bag, don’t fret. I usually cover my Great-Grandma’s Candlewick platter (in photo) with lettuce leaves or other greens or a doily; however, this time I placed them directly on the platter, just like she did.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not talented with a pastry bag and I will never be caught frosting cupcakes with one; the reason I use it is out of laziness. It is easier to pump the yolk yummy into the whites then go back and refill those that are a little on the light side than to try to spoon it in and go back and re-spoon without making a mess – which I am very good at…

What are your favorite adaptations of devilled eggs? Dijon mustard, bacon, red onions, scallions, shallots, blue cheese, caviar, smoked salmon, capers, hot sauce? I'd love to know what your family's deviled egg tradition is.

Great-Grandma’s Deviled Eggs
3 dozen boiled eggs, peeled
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup yellow mustard
1 Tbsp white vinegar
¼ cup sweet pickle juice
2 sweet pickles (not the tiny ones), roughly chopped
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Fresh Italian Parsley, chopped for garnish, optional

Have your serving platters ready. You’ll need two large or several small ones.

Halve the boiled eggs, wiping the knife clean before the next cut, and carefully remove the yolks to the bowl of a food processor and arrange the whites on the platters. Add pickles to food processor and pulse a few times just to break things up a bit. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and blend until smooth. The pickles will disappear altogether (I still don’t like them in chunks J). Adjust seasoning as desired.

If using, place the pastry bag fitted with a large star tip into a pint glass or jar. Using a rubber spatula, scoop/scrape the yolk mixture into the pastry bag. Squeeze the bag to fill each egg white. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and garnish, if desired. Otherwise, just grab two teaspoons from your drawer and go for it.

If you're making the chickies, instead of slicing the egg in half, slice off the top quarter to third of the whole egg. Carefully score the inner portion of the cut side of the egg white just big enough to begin scraping out the yolk, which occasionally pops right out but mostly does not. I lost two eggs altogether due to the whites breaking open beyond repair. If this happens, just toss the whole egg, white and all, into the yolk bowl and try again. When you have enough chickies to make you happy, fill the cavities with the yolk mixture all the way up and out the top. Place lid back on top. Make the eyes out of black olives cut in tiny pieces and the beaks out of tiny triangles of carrot (mine happened to be blanched so the color stayed bright; this was purely by accident as I had to snatch a couple from The Captain's stockpot. We often compete for food for our recipes, one of very few downsides to having a husband who cooks). 

If you're making the day prior to serving, place egg whites on a damp paper towel then place another damp paper towel on top and cover with plastic wrap. Leave the yolk mixture in the bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the mixture so it doesn’t oxidize and harden. Refrigerate whites and yolks. Up to a couple of hours in advance of serving, remove whites to serving dishes, fill with yolk mixture, and garnish. 

If you’re taking the eggs with you, placing lettuce leaves under the whites will keep them from moving around in transit. To cover them with plastic wrap once filled, simply place toothpicks strategically into four or so yolks around the outside of the platter and a couple in the middle and tent loosely.

1 comment:

  1. We use Miracle Whip instead of the mayonnaise and white vinegar. Love the devilled egg chickies - they are so cute!!