I was growing up, I loved my mom’s stuffed eggs. Heck, as a chubby and happy-go-lucky kid, I loved anything filled with mayonnaise.
As I grew older, I figured out that these seductive little bite-sized appetizers (also called deviled eggs, at least when spiked with something hot) were packed with calories. Happily, I now know that you don’t need a ton of mayonnaise to make a tasty filling. This recipe satisfies the heedless little kid in me and the more prudent grown-up.
But first, we need to address the proper way to boil an egg. The goal is to produce a tender white with no nasty green line between it and the yolk. It was Julia Child who taught me how to achieve this lovely result. The key is not to hard boil the egg, but to hard cook it.
You put the eggs in cold water, bring the water to a boil, remove the pan from the heat, then cover it. About 15 minutes later, you drain the pot and run cold water over the eggs. I tend to let them stand for 10 minutes, not 15. It’s the cold water that prevents the green line from forming.
What kind of egg is the best candidate for hard cooking? Oddly enough, you don’t want it to be super fresh. Slightly older eggs are better for hard cooking because the air pocket between the egg and the shell gets larger as the egg gets older. This makes them easier to peel.
How do you figure out the age of an egg (other than by reading the date on the carton)? Place your egg in a bowl of water. If it lies on its side on the bottom of the bowl, it is very fresh. If it stands up, it is somewhat aged and perfect for hard cooking. If it floats to the surface, you might want to toss it.
Now for the filling. Aside from a lone tablespoon of low-fat mayo, most of my filling’s creamy texture is thanks to the avocado. Though this wonderful fruit, a native of Mexico, was maligned for years by the food police because of its high fat content, avocados actually are as nutritious as they are delicious. Here I’ve teamed up the avocado with all of its guacamole pals – lime juice, onion and jalapeño peppers – and topped it with salsa.
Weirdly enough, you may have to search a little to find jalapeños with heat, as they’ve developed a strain of them in Texas that are mostly tame. Me, I don’t get it. It’d be like manufacturing alcohol-free rum. Anyway, you may decide that even your fiery jalapeños aren’t fiery enough. In that case, just add some of the pepper’s seeds and ribs. That'll definitely raise the temperature.
I call for salsa here because tomatoes – especially local tomatoes – are now at the height of their season, so going to the trouble of using those tomatoes to whip up some homemade salsa pays big dividends. I prefer cherry tomatoes, but any ripe tomato will do. I salt them first, then let them stand a bit to concentrate their flavor. If you’re in a rush, or if you want to cook up this dish when it’s not tomato season, by all means use your favorite store-bought salsa. Their deliciousness aside, these eggs, with their green-and-red color scheme, would be as festive at Christmas as they are in mid-summer.