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Farm Fresh: A Chef’s Guide to the Best Deviled Eggs

Using farm fresh eggs is just one of Sylvie Rowand's secrets to making the best deviled eggs around.

Using farm fresh eggs is just one of Sylvie Rowand’s secrets to making the best deviled eggs around.

Bring out a platter of deviled eggs at a party and they disappear. They are the perfect party food: you can make them ahead and in quantity, they are easy and people cannot resist them – especially when made with eggs from pastured hens allowed to forage en plein air, eating grass and bugs: those yolks are bright, nutritious and taste like eggs should. Those shells are firm, making boiling a cinch.

Deviled eggs certainly leave room for plenty of variations:  you can make them as homey or as trendy as you care. In fact, I just heard of some made with curry powder and crushed pineapple. Are you still allowed to call them deviled if they aren’t spicy? I was told recently by a gentleman from Alabama that they simply call “dressed” where he comes from.

Maybe the question is best pondered with a plate of deviled, angeled, or dressed eggs in front of you. And a glass of  a dry Virginia rosé such as Veritas, Breaux or Glen Manor will help with your cogitating.

A few tricks that I use when making deviled eggs:

– Smaller eggs are easier to prepare – and easier to eat in one or two bites.

– Put room-temperature eggs in room-temperature water and then boil to prevent the occasional bursting of shell.

– Older eggs (at least 3 days old, 7 days better) are easier to peel than fresh eggs. It’s not an issue (typically) if you buy eggs. But if you have hens or buy directly from a small farm, save your fresh eggs for frying, use the older ones for boiling.

– The day before, put the eggs on their side to center the yolk better.

– Eggs are cooled, cracked and peeled right away.

– Rub the yolks through a strainer for a perfectly smooth filling.

– Use a pastry bag and tip to pipe the filling into whites. It’s so much prettier!

– If you aren’t serving the eggs immediately (within 2 hours), prepare the filling and store them in the pastry bag, then refrigerate up to 48 hours until you are ready to pipe it into the egg whites.

Farm Fresh Deviled Eggs

For 24 half eggs:

12 eggs from pastured hens
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
A pinch each of ground cayenne, ground coriander, turmeric, pepper & salt
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
To garnish: bits of parsley and cilantro leaves, paprika, capers, sliced olives, sliced cucumber pickles, edible flower, bits of anchovies or smoked trout, etc.

Put the room-temperature eggs in a sauce pan large enough that they all fit in a single layer. Cover with water (to about ½ inch above the top of the eggs). Bring to boil. Lower the heat and boil on medium for 10 minutes.

Transfer the eggs to a bowl of iced water. Gently knock the eggs to crack the shells. Let the eggs cool enough until you can comfortably handle – about 10 to 15 minutes.

Peel. Set the peeled eggs on a clean kitchen towel and gently pat dry.

Halve the eggs lengthwise.

Carefully scoop out the yolks and transfer to a fine-mesh sieve (also called strainer). Put the whites on their serving platter. Using the back of a spoon, rub the yolks through the sieve into a bowl.

Add all the other ingredients (except garnishes) to the bowl. Whisk well to blend. Transfer to pastry bag with star tip and pipe into the egg white halves.

Garnish as desired. Serve immediately (or chill for up to 2 hours)

Sylvie Rowand of Laughing Duck Gardens & Cookery LLC provides in-home catering services for dinner parties using local seasonal ingredients sourced from the Northern Virginia Piedmont. She also teaches cooking and canning workshops, writes about seasonal food and good eating for various publications, and maintains a food and kitchen gardening blog.