I know I told you my days of late have been a blur of butter and a plume of winter spice but I didn’t forget that December is as much about cocktail parties as it is about cookie swaps. And cocktail parties need snacks. They need bacon-wrapped dates and stuffed mushrooms, shrimp cocktail and parmesan biscotti. They need elegant little toasts and spanakopita triangles. And they need deviled eggs. In fact, I’d argue that without deviled eggs, it’s actually no party at all.
Of course, to make devilled eggs, you need to make peace with peeling hard-boiled eggs and I want to tell you, I’ve spent a lot of time peeling hard-boiled eggs, mostly ineffectively, and have come up with several theories that since I have the mic, I will now bore you and the rest of my audience with:
- Theory 1: It varies by bird. I asked a friend who lives in Atlanta and keeps chickens (chickens with awesome names, like Jackie Brown and Buffy the Worm Slayer, I might add. She also grows collards; she says it’s the law in Georgia.) and to sound off on the Great Debate of Egg Peel-ability. She said each of her chickens lay different kinds of eggs, whose shells peel at varying levels of ease. However, although this is a perfectly reasonable and entirely accurate position, because it gave me little that I could share in the way of usable cooking tips, I continued peeling, complaining and cooking up theories.
- Theory 2: The egg smells fear. Surely I’m not the only one whose noticed that the more you need your eggs to peel neatly, the less likely they will. Making egg salad? Eggs will peel delightfully, and nobody will ever know. Shooting a deviled egg recipe for a cookbook? Hello, puckered golf ball-looking eggs! In short: the egg is kind of a punk. (By the way, I have not re-shot my cookbook’s deviled eggs as of yet, because I’m stubbornly hanging onto the to the insistence that my photos represent things that happen in real, imperfect kitchens. But man, those are some ugly eggs.)
- Theory 3: Hard-boiled eggs — like your humble host aspires to — get better with age. As you can guess, I learned this by accident. I made these eggs Monday but didn’t get to cooking with them until Thursday. Do you see those smooth eggs and large peels? Total show-offs. A little Googling led me to pages that discuss in finite detail the altered ph and protein and water levels of peeled eggs. I’ll spare you all this and just assure you that science agrees with me, the internet agrees with me and I cannot believe nobody told me this before. Unless you have a chicken in your backyard that produces perfectly peelable fresh eggs regularly, boil your eggs a few days before you’re going to peel them and lo and behold, intact eggs will be yours!
Ahem, and now back to our regularly scheduled programming: I spied this recipe for caesar salad-style deviled eggs in a new book from Sara-Kate Gillingham-Ryan of Apartment Therapy’s TheKitchn.com and immediately wished I’d thought of it first which is pretty much my favorite thing to happen when I thumb through a book. I mean, how brilliant is the merger of hard boiled eggs and Caesar salad? And how fun would these be to start your next cocktail or dinner party? That’s the theme of the book — entertaining. Good Food to Share is a celebration of dinner parties, of dishes that are meant to feed a crowd. It makes me want to move somewhere in the city with a large dining room a kitchen that will allow me to work on more than one dish at a time so I can have dinner parties every week, which probably means that my husband will hide it soon. The recipes are fresh and approachable, and they seem like easy wins when you’re feeding a crowd, and yet not the same stuffy, predictable staples of dinner parties of yore.
These eggs are a perfect example. The standard, old-school deviled eggs gets a little help from the ingredients in great caesar salad. The only thing I must warn you about is that I had such entrenched views of the way I wanted the eggs to taste that I took a lot of liberties with the recipe, adding lemon juice and a few drops of Worcestershire sauce to the yolk filling, two of my favorite aspects of caesar dressing, and nudging the other ingredients — mayo, Dijon, lemon zest, parsley and Parmesan — according to my tastes. I am, apparently, a deviled egg control freak. I hope you don’t hold it against me.
One year ago: Iced Oatmeal Cookies
Two years ago: Vanilla Roasted Pears and Build Your Own Smitten Kitchen
Three years ago: Dark Chocolate Tart with Gingernsnap Crust and Veselka’s Cabbage Soup and Spelt Everything Crackers
Four years ago: Pear Crisps with Vanilla Brown Butter and Chicken and Dumplings
Five years ago: Salted Chocolate Caramels, Zucchini Ham and Ricotta Fritters and German Pancakes
Caesar Salad Deviled Eggs
Adapted from Good Food to Share
Serves 6 to 12
To make these and bring them to a party, Sarah-Kate suggests that you can prepare the filling and crumbs separately and assemble them when you get there. This will ensure that the yolks don’t dry out and the crumbs stay crisp and light.
6 large eggs
12 small romaine lettuce leaves
2 to 3 tablespoons mayo (2 is suggested but 3 will make a creamier filling)
2 teaspoons smooth Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (optional)
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 anchovy fillet, minced
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 cups (30 grams) panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese or more to taste
Place the eggs in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once water begins to boil, reduce it to medium-low and simmer eggs for exactly 10 minutes. Drain eggs and cover with cold water. Sitting them in ice water will help the eggs chill more quickly.
Do ahead: As I discovered giving your eggs two to four days to rest in the fridge ensures that they peel more easily. If you’ve got time, do this now.
Arrange 12 small lettuce leaves on a serving platter. Carefully peel the eggs and cut in half lengthwise. Remove the yolks and place them in a small bowl. Arrange the whites on leaves. Mash the yolks with the mayo, Dijon, Worcestershire (if using), lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of the parsley until smooth. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set the filling aside.
In a small skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the anchovy and garlic and cook, stirring, until the anchovy begins to dissolve into the oil, about 1 minute. Add the lemon zest and bread crumbs and saute them until golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in Parmesan and set crumbs aside.
When you’re ready to serve the eggs, spoon the yolk mixture back into the cavities of the egg whites, mounding it slightly in the center. (To make extra-cute eggs, you can pipe the filling with a star tip.) Sprinkle each egg with some of the crumb mixture (about 1 teaspoon), allowing some to spill onto the lettuce cups. Garnish with remaining chopped parsley and serve.