“The secret is butter, a tip I picked up in culinary school that takes this Southern staple from delicious to sublime and renders people unable to use the sense God gave a cat to stop eating.”–Virginia Willis, “Bon Appetit, Y’all”
My 6-year-old nephew Jack, the one who woke up one day announcing that he wanted to see the Great Balls of China, hates potatoes, but he loves, loves, loves deviled eggs. He’s even made them himself (with my sister’s help), which means that he’s had one over on me for a while.
I’d never made deviled eggs until last weekend.
There hadn’t been a reason.
Deviled eggs really are a Southern staple, and that’s certainly true for all sides of our family. You don’t celebrate a holiday, get married or have a church potluck without a platter or two full of deviled eggs, which are hard-boiled eggs that have been split so that you can make a filling with the egg yolks (typically combining them with mayonnaise, mustard and relish) and pipe it into the hollows of the egg whites.
We eat them as appetizers. We eat them as side dishes. And I’m pretty sure Jack has made a meal of them more than once.
You know who doesn’t eat them?
So, I hadn’t made any.
But as I was flipping through Virginia Willis’ “Bon Appetit, Y’all” for the upteenth time, her recipe for deviled eggs grabbed me. I’d never heard of adding butter to the filling. Or using Dijon mustard.
Where was the pickle relish? And the paprika?
I waited until Jeff needed to run some errands, and then I stayed behind to learn how to make Virginia’s deviled eggs in total privacy.
The process taught me three things:
- Don’t use fresh eggs. It’s much easier to peel eggs that have been in your fridge for about a week.
- Peeling eggs isn’t hard, but it takes patience. If you rush it, you can wind up taking a nice hunk out of your egg white. Trust me.
- The combination of adding butter to your filling and blending the mixture in a food processor gives you a filling that’s so unbelievably rich and silky smooth, it melts in your mouth and makes all of that egg-peeling torture totally worthwhile.
No wonder people can’t stop themselves from eating these eggs. They’re pretty irresistible, especially with those little chive bits mixed in.
I don’t know when my time will come to be a Designated Deviled Egg Maker, but thanks to Virginia’s guidance, I’ll be ready.
Adapted from Virginia Willis’ “Bon Appetit, Y’all”
- 12 large eggs (use ones that have been in your fridge several days, not fresh eggs)
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
- To Hard Cook the Eggs: Place the eggs in a saucepan. Cover them with water by 1 inch. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Remove the pot from the heat, cover, and let sit for 12 minutes. Place the eggs in a colander, and rinse them under cold running water to stop the cooking. Set aside to cool completely.
- To Peel the Eggs: Tap each egg gently on the counter to crackle it all over. Roll between your hands to loosen the shell. Peel, starting at the large end, while holding the egg under running water.
- Using a sharp knife, slice the eggs in half lengthwise. Carefully remove the yolks with a spoon, and place them in the bowl of a food processor. Set the whites aside.
- In the food processor, blend the yolks, mayonnaise, butter, mustard, and cayenne until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the finely chopped chives.
- Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip, or use a plastic sandwich bag with the tip of one corner snipped off.
- If you don’t have a specially designed deviled egg plate, trim a sliver off the bottoms of your cooked egg whites before you fill them to keep them from rolling.
- To Assemble the Eggs: Pipe the yolk mixture into the hollows of the cooked egg whites. Garnish with additional chives, and serve immediately.