How a Food & Wine editor learned to love a picnic staple, and tips on how to make the perfect deviled egg.
There are not a lot of foods I won't eat, but when it comes to those select few, my disgust runs deep. For as long as I can remember, deviled eggs have hovered high on the list. Their floppy-firm whites, sulfuric smell, messy not-quite-one-bite size, suspiciously vague fillings and worrying lukewarm temperature created, for me, a perfect storm of non-edibility. Unlike contentious foods like chicken livers, deviled eggs are not widely considered controversial—they are everywhere, they are beloved and that platter of them you just shied away from on the buffet is probably from the family recipe of someone with whom you would like to stay friends. But here's the thing—I never wanted to hate deviled eggs. I am a card-carrying member of the #putaneggonit club, I believe mayonnaise is a friend to us all, and I have a real thing for kitschy, classic picnic foods (even the inevitably overdressed macaroni salads of the world).
Finally, this summer, my deviled egg epiphany arrived, in the form of two plates of eggs—one classically creamy, mustard-tinged version at The Heron in upstate New York, and the other a petite, beet-dyed bacon version at New York City's Root & Bone. To spread my newfound knowledge, I've asked Root & Bone's chefs Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth to share their best advice for making the perfect deviled eggs—and then I threw in a few pro tips of my own.
From Root & Bone's Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth:
—Using older eggs, as well as seasoning the water with salt and vinegar, will make for easy peeling.
—Once your eggs are peeled, you have two options: cut lengthwise down the center or in half at the egg's widest point. No matter which you choose, make sure to cut a small slice off the rounded sides to create a solid base for the eggs to sit on.
—When mixing the yolk base, you're looking for a balance of fat, acid and seasoning. Mayo, dijon mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper are a perfect starting point. From there, you can experiment with different mix-ins like capers, chives and pickles. Root & Bone uses garlic aioli, hot sauce, pickles and mixed herbs. Next, think about your toppings—that's how you get texture. Usual suspects include bacon, caviar and fried shallots.
—Once you get comfortable with the basics, go crazy and get creative. Root & Bone's take on this glorious appetizer came when we lost a few egg whites in a bucket of pickled beets. They were instantly stained a beautiful pink color and inspired us to top them with cruncy beet chips.
Additional pro tips I learned the hard way:
—It is possible to overcook a hard-boiled egg—don't. Overcooking is the culprit behind that dreaded sulfuric smell. Never boil your eggs longer than 10 to 12 minutes, and run them under cool water after they come out of the pan to stop the cooking process (go here for a detailed hard-boiled egg tutorial). Use this Mad Genius Tip to peel your eggs in seconds.
—Figure out the serving temperature that produces your perfect egg texture. Cooler eggs will have firmer, less jiggly whites and fillings, which makes them easier to eat with your fingers and keeps the toppings in place. Make sure you give those devils at least a little bit of time to warm up before eating, though, to ensure creamy fillings and maximum flavor impact.
—Finally, if all else fails, make egg salad!