Eggsquisitely devilish possibility and other eggsact facts

Date: 
06/28/2012
eggmound

This recipe deserves the best eggs you can find. If you think farmers’ market eggs are too expensive, splurge on a dozen to make hard boiled eggs.

The rich, fresh flavor of farm-produced eggs really makes a difference when the egg is the star of the dish. Now, the unfortunate thing about really fresh eggs is that they do not peel well at all. Super fresh eggs are notoriously stubborn and refuse to give up their shells no matter how painstakingly you pick off the tiny bits. The hard boiled eggs end up looking like a cratered moonscape.

As an egg ages, the air pocket at the large end expands and the membrane underneath the shell deteriorates a bit, making it easier to peel. When I know I want to make hard boiled eggs for a certain date (say a July 4 deviled egg feast), I will pick up an extra dozen eggs from the farmers’ market the week before, write the date on the carton and store them in the fridge.

Perfect hard boiled eggs are ridiculously easy to prepare. Carefully place the number of eggs you want to cook in one layer in a deep saucepan with a lid. If you want to cook a dozen eggs, use a nine inch wide saucepan. Piling the eggs up can result in uneven cooking and, worse, cracked shells. Put enough cold water in the pan so that the eggs have two inches of water above them and put the pan on the stove over high heat. Bring the eggs to a complete boil.

 Now, clamp on the lid and take the pan off the heat. Set a timer for 15 minutes and relax. When the timer bings, take the pan to the sink and pour off most of the water. Fill the saucepan with cold water and add some ice cubes to cool the eggs quickly. When the eggs are cool enough to handle, gently crack each one all over against the sides of the pan. Now, here’s the trick - leave the cracked eggs in the cold water for another 5 minutes. The water seeps into the cracks and helps to loosen the membrane from the shell. Start peeling from the large, rounded end of the egg and the shells will slip off.

Peeled hard boiled eggs will only keep two days in the refrigerator. For longer storage do not crack the eggshells. Cool the eggs completely in the water, drain and store in the refrigerator up to 5 days.

Deviled Eggs with Cucumbers and Capers

Makes 12 eggs, serving 2-6

You know how to make perfect hard boiled eggs. Now you are ready to make perfect deviled eggs. Were your eggs too fresh and do they look like a moonscape no matter how carefully you peeled them? No matter, this recipe makes delicious egg salad.

6 large                   perfectly hard boiled eggs, peeled and cut in half*
1/4 cup                  mayonnaise, pref. homemade
1 Tbl                      Dijon mustard
1 ½ teaspoon          chopped capers
1 Tbl                      finely chopped cucumber
1 ½ teas                 minced scallion
1 tsp                      minced tarragon leaves
1/8 tsp                   kosher salt, to taste
Several grinds          black pepper
Pinch                      cayenne pepper to taste
a lemon wedge for juicing
Additional flat-leaf parsley leaves and tarragon sprigs for garnish
Paprika, or smoked paprika, optional

Trim the rounded bottoms of the egg halves so the eggs will sit flat on a plate. Mince the egg trimmings and place in a bowl.

Pluck the perfectly cooked egg yolks from the whites and add to the bowl. Mash the yolks and trimmings with a fork. Add the mayonnaise and mustard and continue to mash, blending the yolks with the dressing. Make the mixture as rustic or smooth as you like. Fold in the capers, cucumbers, scallions and tarragon. Season the mixture with salt, black pepper, a touch of cayenne if you wish and a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten the whole thing up.

Mound the filling back into the egg whites, piling it high. Decorate the eggs with whole parsley leaves and tarragon sprigs.

Dust the tops of the eggs with a little paprika for a vintage look.

 *Crosswise or lengthwise? Depends on your preference; the eggs will be delicious either way. I personally like a crosswise cut as the filled eggs are easier to pick up.

Other information: West Town Tavern, Crab, Asparagus and Mayonnaise, zucchini

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