Why It Works
- Using homemade mayo makes the dish stand apart from versions made with store-bought mayo.
- Boiling the eggs until the yolks are perfectly done and shocking them in ice water prevents the egg yolks from developing off flavors.
- Adding the oil in a steady stream while processing the filling makes for a light, fully emulsified deviled egg filling.
Growing up, I was never a fan of deviled eggs (or anything mayonnaise-related, for that matter). Then again, deviled eggs back then consisted mainly of overcooked, slightly sulfurous hard-boiled eggs, mashed up with Hellmann's mayo and a bit of yellow mustard and served too cold. They were the default "serve them anyway, someone will eat them after the guacamole's gone" option at the potluck. I thought I'd sworn them off forever.
Well, times have changed. Or, more likely, my ability to surround myself with people who know how to make awesome deviled eggs has changed.
To be precise, the first truly outstanding deviled eggs I tried as an adult were from Oleana in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I hadn't actually gone in intending to find the key to my devilish chastity belt, but as it happened, I was a poor college student at the time, and in way over my head pretending I could afford to be at a restaurant that I really couldn't. So I did what any well-intentioned but underfunded kid would do: I ordered a cocktail and the cheapest dish on the menu. Both were outstanding.
For one thing, Chef Ana Sortun really knows how to properly cook a hard-boiled egg. The key is starting them in cold water, bringing them up to a boil, then removing them from heat and letting them rest in the cooling water. Starting them cold helps them come up to temperature more evenly, preventing the whites from overcooking and, even better, preventing the dreaded green ring from forming around the yolk—a reaction between the sulfur in the egg white and the iron in the yolk, and a sure indication that your eggs are overcooked (and stinky).
That's all well and good, and the tuna and olives are a nice addition to deviled eggs, but the real key to getting them to taste awesome is the perfect cooking, coupled with the great olive oil and plenty of acid and salt.
At Oleana, Sortun combines these yolks with plenty of really good olive oil, tuna that's been slowly confited in more of that olive oil, along with some black olives and parsley. That's all well and good, and the tuna and olives are a nice addition to deviled eggs, but the real key to getting them to taste awesome is the perfect cooking, coupled with the great olive oil and plenty of acid and salt. Anything tastes better with really good olive oil and more acid.
Since then, I've had plenty of great deviled eggs. Our beer reviewer Nick Leiby makes some pretty mean ones (traditional, but well seasoned). The now-closed Spotted Pig used to make the best I've ever had, and they were the archetype for my own recipe (even more vinegar and salt than Ana's!).
I like to boil more eggs than I need so that I can add extra yolks and overstuff each of the egg halves. (I eat the leftover whites with some Frank's RedHot—I also add a dash of it to the filling—or mix them into Hambone's dog food.) You can never have too much egg yolk. Chives or parsley, with some nice crunchy Maldon sea salt and a sprinkle of good paprika or crushed red pepper (Spanish piment d'Espelette if you're lucky, or a good planner) finish 'em off.
The only other bit to look out for is that, just like when you're making a mayonnaise, if you try to add too much olive oil to your egg yolks too fast, the filling will break, turning grainy and greasy. The key is to slowly drizzle the olive oil in while your food processor is running (or while whisking vigorously, if you like to go manual).
Why did I suddenly realize that the site lacks a basic deviled egg recipe, you ask?
How to Make Deviled Eggs That Are Really Deviled
Further extensive testing has demonstrated that starting eggs in already-boiling water or steaming them is a superior method for easier peeling.
12 large eggs, not too fresh (see notes)
2 tablespoons (30ml) mayonnaise, preferably homemade
1 tablespoon (15ml) Dijon mustard
Up to 1 tablespoon (15ml) white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon (3ml) Frank's RedHot sauce
1/4 cup (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil, divided (see notes)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons (85g) thinly sliced chives
Crushed red pepper or hot paprika
Crunchy sea salt, such as Maldon
Add 1 tray of ice cubes to a large bowl and fill with water. Fill a large pot with 1 inch of water. Place steamer insert inside, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Add eggs to steamer basket, cover, and continue cooking over high heat for 12 minutes. Immediately place eggs in bowl of ice water and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before peeling under cool running water. Slice each egg in half lengthwise.
Place all yolks in the bowl of a food processor. Select 16 of the best-looking egg white halves and set aside; reserve remaining 8 for another use. Add mayonnaise, mustard, 1/2 tablespoon (7ml) vinegar, and hot sauce to food processor and process until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.
With machine running, slowly drizzle in 2 tablespoons (30ml) olive oil. Season mixture to taste with salt and remaining vinegar (if desired). Transfer to a zipper-lock bag. Filling and egg white halves can be stored in the refrigerator up to overnight before eggs are filled and served.
Cut off a corner of zipper-lock bag and pipe filling mixture into egg whites, overstuffing each. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and sprinkle with black pepper, chives, crushed red pepper or paprika, and sea salt. Serve immediately.
For the best results, use really, really good olive oil.
I like overstuffing the eggs, which leaves you with a few extra whites. Just eat 'em (or feed them to the dog). Eggs that are a couple of weeks old will peel more easily than very fresh eggs.
Make-Ahead and Storage
You can boil the eggs and make the filling one day ahead of time.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 8g||11%|
|Saturated Fat 2g||9%|
|Total Carbohydrate 0g||0%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||0%|
|Total Sugars 0g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||2%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|