Thursday, May 03, 2007

Not Your Momma's Egg Salad: It's Devilled

When devil references show up in food, they either seem to mean "tangy with mustard" or that deliciously evil chocolate cake with the reddish glow. Devilled eggs are of course Mother's way of finishing off those cracked, color-stained remnants of Easter, yet they are also the first thing to disappear at pot-luck gatherings, especially, and ironically, at church. But they are tedious to make and they slide around hopelessly on the platter -- unless you have one of those cheesy plates with nest-like indentations. And I can never get many of the yolks in the center to give a competent appearance.

The idea of making egg salad, often dowdy and uninteresting, more wicked and tantalizing appeals to me. I'm reminded, loosely, of the Oscar Wilde comment, noting the attractiveness of sin, to the effect that "As long as war is considered evil, it will always have its adherents. If it can be portrayed as vulgar, it will disappear."

So here's my approach to converting hard-boiled eggs into something with real taste -- devilled egg salad. It has the requisite mustard -- Dijon preferred -- but also emits other little taste flames. It makes exciting sandwiches or a spread for crackers or vegetable crudités. (Try it on a freshly toasted English muffin!) Let the mixture sit at least 15 minutes to allow the flavors to develop. Also be sure there is enough salt, since hardboiled eggs tend notoriously toward blandness. And bland is a sin I do not commit. The recipe will make 4 sandwiches or serve as an appetizer spread for 4-6 people.

Devilled Egg Salad Tim

6 hard-boiled (12 minutes just simmering) eggs
3 tablespoons minced bell pepper (red preferred)
1 teaspoon minced jalapeño pepper (canned or fresh), or 1/4 teaspoon Tobasco sauce
1 small green onion (scallion), including the green part, minced
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
5 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons vinegar
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Salt to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon if "large" eggs used)

Shell the eggs, get all the membrane off, then rinse the bits of shell off the eggs. Pat dry with paper towel. Chop the eggs finely in a mixing bowl (a pastry blender with cutter wires or blades works well, or grate or mash fully with a fork). Mix in all the remaining ingredients, using slightly less salt until you combine everything well and taste it. Cover and let sit at least 15 minutes to "ripen" before serving.

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