Ever since I can remember, Deviled Eggs have always been served at family holiday gatherings. I have always loved boiled eggs, egg salad, and especially Deviled Eggs. My maternal great-grandmother, whom I called Mimi, was the one who made the Deviled Eggs, and for years we all just enjoyed them immensely. One year, I decided that I wanted to learn how to make them, so I asked her to show me how. I can’t remember how old I was, but I think I was in middle school.
As with most of her cooking, she didn’t really have a recipe for deviled eggs. She just put in a little of this and a little of that, and she just taught me all of the ingredients that go into the deviled eggs, and she would just keep swiping her finger into the buttery, yellow yolk mixture and tasting it until it was just right, and that’s how I do it to this day. I’ve tried to measure everything out to figure out a set recipe, and it just doesn’t work. So my recipe is less exact, and more about the method. Taste as you go, and it will come out just right.
The first year I didn’t spend Thanksgiving with my parents, and went to a significant other’s house instead, my mother called me frantic because no one else knew how to make the deviled eggs. I tried my best to tell her over the phone how to make them, but she said in the end it was a disaster. The yolks turned green, they didn’t taste right, and no one ate them.
The thing is, Deviled Eggs of any kind are a labor of love. No matter how many you make, there will never be enough, and they will always be gobbled down so quickly, when they took such a long time to make. They take time to boil, peel, and chill. And then I take a few extra steps that make the process a little longer, but they are really delicious because of it.
First of all, buy your eggs at least a week in advance. Fresh eggs will be harder to peel when boiled than eggs that are at least a week old. But be prepared… even if you think ahead, sometimes you just get stubborn shelled eggs and they look a mess when they are peeled. But no one will really care, I promise.
Second, I under-boil my eggs. Julia Child is famous for a fool proof method of setting your eggs in a pan, covering them with cold water, bringing them to a boil, and then as soon as the pot boils, take it off the heat, cover it with a lid, and let them set for 10 minutes exactly. Plunge your eggs into an ice water bath, then peel them once they are cool enough to touch.
That method does produce perfect hard boiled eggs. BUT… over the years I have started to under boil my eggs so that the filling is super bright and yellow. So I bring my eggs to a boil and then cover them for EIGHT minutes exactly, and then ice them and peel them. The yolks will look in between soft boiled and hard boiled. I also used pasture raised eggs, which are more expensive, but the yolks are always brighter, which indicates that the chickens are also healthier.
Something else that I have added to my Mimi’s Deviled Egg method is that I push my bright yellow yolks through a sieve before blending them with the filling ingredients. It makes for a super fluffy filling, with no lumps. This always takes me a good 15-20 minutes, but I think it is worth it.
This year for Thanksgiving, I decided to take a hint from another southern chef, Virginia Willis, and add softened butter to my original deviled egg recipe. When I was in culinary school in Atlanta, I worked at a store called The Cook’s Warehouse, and they hosted cooking classes on a regular basis. Virginia Willis came and shared her recipe for deviled eggs, and told us her secret of adding a tablespoon of butter to the recipe to make them extra delicious and creamy. Now, I have added more than just a tablespoon of butter to mine, because I wanted to showcase a really special grass fed, pastured butter that I bought from Happy Cow Creamery last time I was in South Carolina. This butter is so good I can just eat it plain. Don’t judge me. This is usually not a part of my regular deviled eggs, because my brother is allergic to milk, and would never be able to eat these. And he LOVES deviled eggs, so I wouldn’t add the butter if he is going to eat them. If you don’t add the butter, just add extra mayo. I also always use homemade mayo now because I like to make sure that they mayo is made with a healthy oil.
Also, if some of the boiled whites rip and are too far gone to use, don’t worry. That just means that you get to have really stuffed deviled eggs, which is kind of better anyway. I used a pastry bag and a closed jumbo star tip to make these deviled eggs super fancy. I garnished my eggs with a sprinkle of paprika and chives, as well as some homemade duck cracklings.