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November 30, 2012
I don't cook much, but there are a few things I can make pretty well. Deviled eggs are at the top of the list. Especially if you need to bring something to a holiday party, for two dollars and a half hour of effort, you can bring a tray of something that will get eaten instead of that package of generic sandwich cookies you brought last time that nobody touched.
The first ingredient is eggs, duh, and they need to be hard boiled, which is kind of an art in itself. It's hard to cook something that you can't see the part of that's being cooked. Don't worry, I shall guide you. Put the eggs in a pot big enough that they have a little room to move around, because much like your mom, they'll expand as they get hot. I usually boil a dozen at a time, but you may want to do some extra in case one is bad, or one gets ruined by your ham-fisted attempt to do something right for a change. Throw in a generous amount of baking soda, which makes the eggs easier to peel. Cover with water. Bring to a boil, and once the water starts REALLY boiling, cook for seven or eight minutes, depending on the size of the eggs. After the time is up, remove the pot from the heat, remove the eggs from the pot, and put them in the fridge to chill them.
After the eggs are good and cold, peel them. This is the tedious part, so put on some music or something. Be careful not to break the whites--remember, people eat with their eyes first, and nobody wants to eat something that looks like you stepped on it. Even with the baking soda, there will invariably be one or two eggs with the peel stuck harder than your crazy uncle to the punch bowl. Persevere. If you shmush one trying to peel it, you can use one of the extras you boiled except you probably didn't because you already know everything Mr. Smarty Pants.
Next, cut the eggs in half lengthwise. Do this carefully--remember these are eggs, not cadavers. Fragile. Now you finally get to see if you boiled them for the right amount of time. If your kitchen counter looks like a Double Dare physical challenge, you should have cooked them longer. If the yolks are green, you overcooked them, but you can salvage this situation. As Julia Child famously said, "You are alooooone in the kitchen." You can just add extra stuff later to make them look and taste better, and the other party guests will probably be too drunk to notice.
Put the whites someplace safe and put the yolks in a mixing bowl big enough to give you some room to work. The most basic deviled eggs contain just mustard and mayonnaise (or salad dressing, or Miracle Whip, whatever). Don't go squirting condiments like Dr. Funkenstein just yet. Start with a LITTLE BIT of each. You can always add more, but can't take it out once it's in. I prefer to mix with a flexible silicone scraper, but it doesn't matter. Add mustard little by little, tasting as you go. Cooking without tasting periodically is like driving a car blindfolded through an elementary school. Once the yolks taste sufficiently mustardly, mix in mayonnaise slowly until you reach a nice creamy texture. At this point, you can also add salt (TASTE as you go, salt is powerful stuff) and pepper if you like, as well as whatever else strikes your fancy. This is your chance to get creative. Tabasco sauce lends a nice touch, and I especially like celery seed. Old Bay (that's a crab seasoning for you Philistines reading this) is one of my favorites. Don't bother with finely minced vegetables, nobody likes vegetables. My mom usually adds lots of cheese and bacon because she doesn't know what restraint is.
Now, you can just slop the yolk mixture into the whites with a spoon if you're not particularly ambitious. Or, if you want to impress, you can put the yolks into a plastic zipper bag and cut off the corner with a pair or scissors. Boom, instant pastry bag!(applause) Carefully squeeze the yolks into the whites, almost as if they were little soft serve ice cream cones. It's one of the few times in life when having worked that soul crushing job at Dairy Queen comes in handy. Practice makes perfect. As a final touch, you can sprinkle some paprika or parsley on top to make them pretty, since they probably need all the help they can get. But don't worry, everybody will love them, and even if they don't (I'm looking at you Mr. Minced Vegetables) you'll have something to nosh on later while you watch TV alone in your apartment, you miserable loser.
If you liked this article, you may also enjoy reading Seasons of Smells.