Food & Drink

August 27, 2008

Be deviled, a classic just keeps getting better and better

Apparently, there are people out there who don't like deviled eggs, and my husband is one of them.

Apparently, there are people out there who don't like deviled eggs, and my husband is one of them.

I didn't know this until I picked a variety of deviled egg recipes to try out for this week's column. I was looking for an end-of-summer, party-type dish, and decided on one of my childhood favorites — deviled eggs.

When my husband told me he was planning on being out of the house while I made them — he says the smell makes him sick — I was crushed. How can someone not like deviled eggs? What's not to like about a comforting mash of egg yolks, mayonnaise, mustard and paprika. It can't get better than that.

At least, I thought it couldn't. Then I looked online for deviled egg recipes. Chefs and home cooks have come up with hundreds of luscious-sounding variations, most of them nothing like the deviled eggs of my youth.

Think wasabi deviled eggs, shrimp-stuffed eggs, tuna-stuffed eggs, deviled eggs with jalapeños and hot pepper sauce. I even found a recipe for fried deviled eggs, in which the stuffed eggs are dredged in flour, dipped in beaten eggs, rolled in panko and, yes, fried in oil.

Because there is so much variety out there, I decided to send out several deviled egg recipes to our testers and let them decide which one they liked best.

I secretly hoped someone would pick the fried deviled eggs. But I had to admit they were a bit much, even for me. I have great memories of deviled eggs the way my mother made them, with mayonnaise, yellow mustard, pickle relish and nothing else. If it were a special occasion, like Christmas or Thanksgiving, she might mix in a little chopped shrimp.

In that vein, I chose the shrimp-stuffed eggs. This recipe, from the Food Network's Paula Deen, screamed creamy goodness. Again, what's not to like? Shrimp, mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard. Sounded like a winner to me.

Shopping was easy, and made me realize just how economical deviled eggs are: one dozen eggs, $1.99; baby dill, $1.79; one lemon, 40 cents; a handful of shrimp, 84 cents. Total cost: $5.02. I can't think of many appetizers you can make for less.

Preparation went OK. I read that you should cover the eggs with cold water and bring the water to a boil, then turn off the heat, put the lid on the pot and let the eggs sit for about 10 minutes. This worked, but I forgot to put the eggs in ice water before I peeled them. I nearly burned the tips of my fingers, but then I ran the eggs under cold water and everything was fine.

Peeling the eggs was more difficult than I expected. The shells didn't come off perfectly, and my egg whites were a little worse for wear.

The filling was delicious. A little gooshier than my mom's version (because of the sour cream?), but wonderfully flavorful.

The shrimp added flavor and texture, the lemon cut the richness, and the dill gave a much-needed bite.

What's not to like? Now, if only I could convince my husband.

Bee staff writer Kerry McCray can be reached at 578-2358 or at

What Testers Had To Say

This was a great idea. I really enjoyed reading through all the recipes.

I picked three to try:

The bacon and cheese deviled eggs were good, but I think they need a stronger flavor; I'll try smoked cheese next time. There's also a slight sweetness from the honey mustard.

My favorite was the ham and egg with the sour cream. It has a very smooth consistency and would be a good hors d'oeuvre on crackers or as an egg salad sandwich.

The deviled eggs with brown mustard and capers have a marinated flavor that is really interesting. I'd double the vinegar and hot sauce because I like a little zip.

— Ann Waldron of Sequim, Wash., formerly of Modesto

My wife likes capers, and I like brown mustard; choosing the deviled eggs with brown mustard and capers recipe was therefore automatic. We made the right choice; the deviled eggs were delicious. When we tasted the filling before stuffing the whites, we both thought it tasted too strongly of mustard, and neither of us thought any salt or pepper was needed. After the filled eggs sat in the refrigerator for several hours, the flavors blended very well. No adjustments to the recipe are necessary. When I invited my guests to be critical of the eggs, they said, "They're delicious; perfect." My only deviation was to mash the yolks with a fork rather than to force them through a sieve or ricer. Adding water was not necessary; I got a smooth, pasty filling that was easy to spoon into the whites.

— Ralph Moore, Modesto

Why mess with perfection? I made the traditional deviled eggs but added ½ teaspoon of dried dillweed to the yolk mixture. I brought the eggs and salted water (at room temperature) just to a boil, then covered them off the stove for 15 to 20 minutes. They always come out great for me that way.

— Sandy Loya, Modesto

I decided to make both the bacon cheese eggs and the very strange fried deviled eggs just so I could say we tried it. I cut both recipes in half and fried only four of the egg halves. Like any deviled eggs, they were easy to prepare and I had everything but the eggs on hand. We learned and experienced many things eating these: Fried deviled eggs are more bizarre and worthless than fried Twinkies, once my daughter's teeth got through the fried crispy layer and into the egg, she made strange noises and spit it out, my husband of 20 years informed me that he does not like deviled eggs either, my son liked the bacon ones best and I liked the fried recipe unfried the best. The Dijon mustard, onion, lemon, hot sauce mixed with the egg and mayo was nice and delicate and totally hidden in the frying process.

— Karin Reenstierna, Modesto

I chose the bacon and cheese deviled eggs because they sounded less odd than the other recipes. I used Miracle Whip Light instead of mayonnaise, regular mustard instead of honey mustard, and Hormel Real Bacon Pieces instead of cooking and crumbling a couple of bacon slices. We didn't have sharp cheddar, so I used mild. Everyone loved them; even one son who normally doesn't eat deviled eggs asked for a second one.

— Melody Bold, Delhi

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