The devil(ed) egg went down to Logan, Part I
I feel like deviled eggs are having a moment right now. Like, my whole newsfeed has been filled with deviled egg-related memes, and pictures of everyone’s deviled eggs. And I think I know why: deviled eggs are a party food, a backyard BBQ, big crowd-food. You either eat them at parties or you eat leftovers that you stole from parties. So that would explain why everyone I know seemed to be egg-sessed (pun intended) with deviled eggs through the holidays-it’s literally the first occasion we’ve had all year to enjoy them.
My memories of deviled most often have a grandmother attached to them. Grandma Kate made some good ones, but my Grandma Betty, in Logan, plied me with them the most, probably because we were at her house the most during deviled egg season, which, in my learned opinion, starts on Easter and ends at Christmas. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself when the last time you ate a Valentine’s Day deviled egg was. I’ll wait.
So since there’s a good chance I have made and eaten my last deviled egg until Easter of 2021, I’m going to share my basic recipe with you, so bear with me as I attempt to use a lesson from Mrs. Lavender’s third grade class on how to write directions that I’ve never forgotten (she had us all write out how to make a peanut butter sandwich, and then using our directions, made those sandwiches to show us the flaws in our direction-writing. Guess which kid forgot to instruct the reader to use bread and cringed as she made a peanut butter, jam, and notebook paper sandwich?).
Step one: Go to the grocery store and buy one dozen eggs, or call your local neighbor who raises chickens and get a dozen eggs from them (you’ll know they raise chickens because they’ll be constantly on social media asking people to come get eggs). Then put those babies in the fridge; this isn’t Europe, we don’t eat counter eggs here.
Step two: Get out a large saucepan, and put all 12 eggs in it. But Ceason, you ask, what if I don’t need 24 deviled eggs? To that I say, 24 is the bare minimum number of eggs you are legally allowed to serve at a party in West Virginia. Anything less is a misdemeanor. Do it two parties in a row, and you’re risking jail time. Three parties, and they make you run for governor, which appears to be our highest form of punishment at the moment.
Try to get your eggs in a single layer in the pan. If they aren’t, get a bigger pan. If you don’t own a bigger pan, eh, just pile them on. I’m not in your house, I don’t know your pan situation, and frankly, it doesn’t really matter (says the person who took Geology, aka Rocks for Jocks, as her college science requirement). I’ve piled anywhere from 12 to 36 eggs in a large stockpot before and had no trouble, but you do you.
Step three: Cover the eggs with water. Cold, hot, well, city-also doesn’t matter. Cover them with just enough water to cover them up (i.e., don’t fill the pan to the top with water!).
Step four: Put the pan on the stove, turn the heat on high, then go do something else for about 15 minutes. That gives the water time to get up to boiling (ie, the water is bubbling a lot), and the eggs time to cook. You do not want to over-boil the eggs-dry yolks are bad for making filling. Too much boiling also creates greenish egg yolks, which taste okay, but this isn’t a St. Patrick’s Day food, so try and keep your boiling to a time that give you daffodil-yellow yolks, okay?
If you absolutely have to have time measurements, then stay in the kitchen till the water starts to boil (reminder-that means the water is bubbling a lot), then set a timer for eight minutes. Then go far enough away from the stove that it’ll take you about 30 seconds after the timer got off to get back to the kitchen.
Step five (This part is critical and maybe the whole reason I wrote this column, so pay attention): Turn the heat off the stove, take your pan of eggs and water to the sink, and tip your pan so that the water mostly drains out. Then I want you, and I’m not kidding here, to hold the pan by handle and bounce the eggs up and down in the pan. The eggs are boiled, so you can’t hurt them, so bounce them up and down so they crack against each other and pan. You want those eggs to get really good cracks in the shells.
Once all the eggs have cracks in the shells, add water (any temperature) to the pan again, and swirl the eggs around in the pan really good, letting those eggs bang against the pan. Your goal here is to get that water into the cracks of the eggs, because that’s what makes the shells slip off easily. Don’t listen to those Facebook memes that tell you it’s oil in the water, or salt in the water, or leaving them in cold water. All you need to get easy-peel eggs is to make sure that the eggs have enough cracks in the shells so the water gets between the shell and the actual egg (science, y’all!).
Let the eggs sit on your counter, in the water, for about 3-5 minutes. The water should still be warm when you go to peel them, because it’s been my experience that my eggs have peeled easier when the water has still been lukewarm when I went to peel them. Think the temperature of a baby’s bottle, or for those of us without children, the temperature you let your water in a sinkful of dishes get before you berate yourself into finishing washing up.
Step six: Peel the eggs, making sure not to leave any shells on. People will forgive a lot of things about bad deviled eggs, but shells ain’t one of them (eat someone’s deviled egg with a piece of shell on it and tell me you don’t stop trusting them). Give the eggs a little swish in the water to make sure you got all the shell and white skin-stuff off. Then lay the egg on a few layers of paper towel to dry while you peel the rest.
And just like this week’s column, you can stop here, pack up your eggs in a Tupperware container (with the lid on. I shouldn’t have to tell you that, but Mrs. Lavender showed me that yes, you absolutely have to tell people everything), put them in the fridge, and finish devil-ing them up a day or two (or a week) later. That’s the nice thing about boiled eggs: as long as you keep them in the fridge, they can’t hurt you.
Next week: Part II of how to devil an egg, which could be subtitled: When We Found Out Ceason Is As Basic as They Make Them.