This is an easy hors d'oeuvre recipe, and it is a variant of a devilled eggs. Devilled eggs are eggs hard boiled, and then their yolk extracted and mixed with other ingredients to make a pate. The pate is then returned to the whites and served in them. As a general rule, it's hard to ruin a devilled egg recipe. This recipe has a lot of slop involved, but it is written in specific terms because: a) it was developed that way, and b) it'll taste best as exactly given.
You will need to have certain manual dexterity to succeed, so you may not wish to drink any of the sherry until you are done.
A Social Context For This Recipe
This recipe is an excellent one for bring-a-dish-to-share style parties, in which each person brings as dish she chooses, enough to feed everyone expected to come. This dish will serve about 18-24 people, as some will not like the savoury flavour, some will be health-conscious (which this recipe is not) and worry about salt fat and cholesterol content, desperate vegetarians may find this is the only dish present they can eat, and others will come back for more.
This kind of party (called potluck in America), has a small social problem attached, in that often there is extra food. This recipe avoids the problem: they very often get gobbled, and they are addictively delicious, so you won't regret eating any leftovers, and you will be easily able to get your host to take some, should folk not eat them up. If it looks like there will be some left, you can also approach a person you wish to break the ice with, and ask them waifishly if they tried those odd-looking devilled eggs. Since the serving is well defined, 1/2 of an egg, your target won't feel as put upon as might be if you brought cake, and will likely eat one piece. And if that person turns out to be pleasant company, so much the better.
Equipment You Will Need
- 6-litre (l) capacity pan to boil all the eggs
- 25-centimetre (cm) diameter mixing bowl
- a sharp small knife
- a fork
- a 14-gramme (g) measure: this is one tablespoon (tbsp)
- a 5g measure: this is one teaspoon (tsp)
- a 2.5g measure
- a 1g measure, if you like the flavour of garlic
- a pepper grinder
- a 35 x 25 x 6 cm Pyrex (or other heavy, similar-sized) pan
- aluminium foil, at least 23 cm wide
Equipment You Might Need
It will also be helpful to have:
A dessert spoon, so people can serve themselves without getting their fingers on someone else's portion
A rubber/plastic spatula if you don't like sticky fingers or are loath to use your hands in a recipe
A bowl to catch egg shells
A large bowl to temporarily store peeled eggs
If you are going to a posh do, a pastry tube to pipe the pate back in the whites with a pretty swirly pattern. There are also pretty plates designed for holding this dish, but the rectangular pan will do.
- 18 large-sized chicken eggs
- 56 g (4 tbsp) sherry
- 28 g (2 tbsp) mayonnaise
- 28 g (2 tbsp) prepared Dijon mustard
- 5 g (1 tsp) castor sugar
- 5 g (1 tsp) freshly ground black pepper
- 2.5 g (1/2 tsp) finely ground salt
- 2.5 g (1/2 tsp) tarragon
- 1 g (1/4 tsp) of garlic powder
- A dash of balsamic vinegar
Other Suggested Ingredients
To some folk, devilled eggs are a subtlety, and so they are 'supposed' to have yellow pate; this recipe will turn it grey, so you may wish to add yellow food colour.
Do not add a paprika topping, which is a common devilled egg decoration. It just won't taste right.
Important Notes on Ingredients
Large eggs (old sizes 1,2, and 3) in the UK are called 'Jumbo eggs' in the US. A jumbo (US) egg weighs approximately 68g, or 30 oz US per dozen. The eggs should be fresh. If you have your own chickens, do not pick just-laid eggs, but choose instead older eggs you have been storing for at least two days. This helps peeling the shells off.
This recipe calls for 18 eggs, because some are going to crack as you boil them, and some just won't peel right, some will have been laid by asymmetrical hens, and some will hold onto their yolks, etc. This way, you will have at least 12 pretty ones for your event, and up to 6 deformed ones to eat yourself.
If the sherry is sweet, you will want to omit the sugar. The recipe will taste OK without sherry, if the reader desires. But then, you'd have difficulty piping them and they'd just be Devilled Eggs. Also, they won't keep as well, as this food has a very short shelf life.
If the mayonnaise is a commercial preparation, it is probably also sugar sweetened, and you may want to omit or reduce the recipe's sugar. You may also wish to prepare your own mayonnaise.
'Yellow mustard' common in American supermarkets, may not work in this recipe. Honey mustards don't work. Typical German mustards (hausmachersenf) also don't seem to work. You might prefer to prepare your own Dijon mustard.
Castor sugar (which is sometimes called superfine, ultrafine or bar sugar in the USA) is needed because the recipe contains almost no water in which to dissolve it. If you dissolve your regular (extra fine) sugar in one of the other ingredients, then you are stuck with your sugar proportion and cannot easily adjust it to taste. In America, you can sometimes get a slightly coarser sugar, called Baker's Special, which will also work.
A common name for finely ground salt in the USA, is French Fry Salt. This is how you will commonly find it in a supermarket or speciality gourmet or wholesale-to-restaurants shop. Perhaps in the UK you can find it where folks who fry chips get their supplies. It is needed for the same reason as castor sugar: it's finer and more easily dissolved and mixed in to taste. Again, you can dissolve normal salt in your sherry or your mayonnaise, but this doesn't allow easy adjustments of proportion.
If you don't grind the pepper fresh, you will need about twice as much.
Tarragon is a delicate spice. If your supply is not purchased within the last few months, you will need to add more. Be careful with this, as its intensity of flavour seems to increase with time as it sits in the pate.
The recipe tastes OK without the garlic, if the reader prefers. Definitely omit it if you overboil your eggs.
Balsamic vinegar is its own kind of vinegar with a distinct strong flavour, it is not just vinegar with balsam in it. Since there is already vinegar in the prepared mustard, if you don't have any balsamic vinegar, it doesn't help the recipe to add regular vinegar.
How to Make your Sherried Eggs
Hard boil your eggs in the 6 l pan. For information on how to do this, go here: How to Boil an Egg. It will take about 4 l of water, and 15 minutes time. If you add a handful of salt to the water, this will improve your chances of saving an egg whose shell has cracked. The salt will help curdle the albumen before it gets very far! If you marble your eggs, they will be pretty but overcooked. This means a) getting the yolks out without gouging the whites will be more difficult, and b) they will taste more sulphurous.
Immediately put the pan under the tap in the sink and run cold water over the eggs for about 5 minutes. This will stop them from overcooking and make them easier to peel. Leave the cold water in the pan as you peel the eggs (steps 4-6). If you salted your water, osmosis will cause a tiny amount of water to enter the egg and make it easier to peel.
Wet the rectangular pan with water. This will help the eggs slide instead of sticking.
Take an egg out and tap it with your fork handle. Ideally, you want to create rather large shell pieces when you crack. Doing this makes it easier to get the pieces to come off the egg without digging into the egg, and your egg whites will be prettier.
Peel this egg, removing all the large pieces of shell. There will be small pieces that you just can't seem to get. So:
Immerse the egg in your cold water, rubbing off the small pieces of shell. They will fall away! Put each cleaned egg temporarily in your rectangular pan, or if you have one, the large bowl you have for this purpose. When you have peeled them all:
Eyeball an egg, and estimate where the yolk is. Cut the yolk exactly in half. This will mean cutting the entire egg approximately in half along the maximum diameter of the egg. (If the egg is perfectly and symmetrically boiled, lucky you!, this will mean lengthwise) with your small sharp knife.
You will now have two egg halves. One side will be rounded, and show just white, and the other will be flat, and show half of the yolk. Take each egg half in turn. By holding the flat side of the egg half over the mixing bowl, and gently pushing from the rounded side, directly behind the yolk, you can neatly pop both yolk halves into the mixing bowl. If the eggs are underdone or overdone, you may have to gently dig yolk bits out with your knife, which is time consuming.
Set your whites carefully back into the rectangular pan, for without the yolks inside they can be fragile. Do steps 6-8 for each egg, and then set this pan aside.
Put all the other ingredients in your mixing bowl. Mix them together with a fork. For maximum tastiness, do not blend completely, but leave tiny undevilled lumps of yolk, like you would leave in a muffin or pancake batter.
Fork the pate back into the whites. You will have to use your fingers, or if you have one, a rubber spatula, to get the last of it. If you have a steady hand, the time and the inclination, put the pate in a pastry tube and squeeze it back into the whites. In any case, since you have added material to the yolks, you will need to pile the pate in higher than the original yolk-cup depth.
Save all the prettiest ones in your rectangular pan to take to the party. If you have friends who appreciate the unusual, or enjoy 'found art', you can bring the surprise eggs with you. If you are unsure about the reaction you'll get, store the mutant ones in Tupperware, or feed immediately to your roommate, as it pleases you.
The 6 cm depth of the pan should allow you to run aluminium foil across the top without getting it into the pate, even if you transport the dish (cling film is a poor idea, it will just make for a big mess, and isn't recyclable).
Refrigerate the whole thing for at least 1/2 hour, ideally two. If you are using the heavy rectangular pan, it will help keep the dish cool during the party. There's enough vinegar and alcohol in the pate to keep it from going off, even if it's quite hot.
If you have a garden, you can grind the shells in a mortar and pestle and toss them in it to enrich your soil, or feed them back to your chickens. You can also use them as a good clean-out for your sink garbage disposal How to get the Best from your Garbage Disposal.