Straight-up deviled eggs

Published: Wednesday, Jun. 13, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 4D
Last Modified: Wednesday, Jun. 13, 2012 - 9:57 am

Start to finish: 30 minutes (plus overnight chilling)

Makes 24 halves

The recipe is from chef Elizabeth Karmel, who writes:

When I think about summer, I think about deviled eggs. Just about every activity – from camping and cookouts to beach vacations and July Fourth gatherings – can be enhanced by a plate of deviled eggs.

It's really just a matter of swapping the garnish to fit the activity or mood.

If I am feeling down-homey, I add a little pimento cheese to my basic deviled egg mixture. If I want to spice it up, I add puréed chipotle and substitute lime for the lemon. Still, no matter how good embellished deviled eggs are, my favorite remains what I call "straight-up deviled eggs." They are as advertised – classic and simple.

Freshly boiled eggs are key to great flavor and texture. Don't buy pre-cooked hard-boiled eggs.

The best method is to place the eggs in a saucepan and add enough cold water to generously cover them. Bring the water to a boil. As soon as the water is boiling, turn off the heat, put a lid on the pan and wait 15 minutes. This method will guarantee a yellow, creamy well-cooked egg. After 15 minutes, plunge the eggs into a bowl of cold water. This keeps them from overcooking and turning green in the center.

The eggs taste better after the filling mixture has had a chance to sit. For that reason, I always make my deviled eggs the day before and refrigerate the mixture in a closed pastry bag. I pipe (squirt) the filling into the whites just before serving or leaving the house. A light hand with the garnish, then you are done.

INGREDIENTS

1 dozen large eggs

1/3 cup mayonnaise

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup strong Dijon mustard (such as Amora or Maille)

Zest of 1/2 lemon

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Pinch garlic powder

2 to 4 shakes hot sauce

Salt

Smoked paprika or minced fresh chives

INSTRUCTIONS

Fill a large bowl with cold water.

Place the eggs in a large saucepan or stockpot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, cover, then turn off the heat. Let the eggs sit for 15 minutes. Drain the eggs, then transfer them to the bowl of cold water. Let them sit for about 10 minutes, or until cool to the touch.

Carefully peel the eggs, keeping the whites intact. Cut in half across the middle or lengthwise, depending on your desired final presentation. Use your fingers or a small spoon to gently scoop out the yolks into a medium bowl. Set the whites aside on a platter or deviled egg plate, then cover and refrigerate.

Use a fork to mash the yolks until all large pieces are broken up and smooth. Add the mayonnaise, butter, mustard, lemon zest and juice, garlic powder and hot sauce. Stir well. Taste and season with salt. Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag or plastic zip-close bag and refrigerate overnight.

Just before serving or leaving for a summer event, snip off the tip of the piping bag (or one of the bottom corners of a zip-close bag) and squeeze the deviled egg mixture into the egg whites. Alternatively, you can use a small spoon to fill the egg white "boats" with the yolk mixture, but the presentation is less attractive.

Sprinkle the eggs with smoked paprika for classic eggs, or chives for a fancier version. Serve chilled.

Per half egg: 70 calories; 45 calories from fat (64 percent of total calories); 5 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 95 mg cholesterol; 2 g carbohydrate; 3 g protein; 0 g fiber; 80 mg sodium.

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