Deviled eggs are one of those weird party foods, an afterthought for most, a treasured bite of memory inducing deliciousness for others. They are a mainstay at Baptist and Methodist potlucks and backyard BBQs in the south, but they are also showing up in various forms at farm to table restaurants and trendy eateries through the states.
Personally, I’d always viewed them as an afterthought picnic food. Deviled egg are great for a quite bite of protein in a sea of veggie platters, but they aren’t exactly the type of food I make an effort to seek out on the food table. I suppose the biggest challenge to deviled eggs is they are as easy to make “wrong” as they are to make right. Popping a random deviled egg into your mouth carries some serious taste-based risks. So in general, I’ve always avoided them.
Until a few years ago when my friend Rachel and I were in NYC for a trade show where I was speaking. In all my trips to NYC, I had never found my way to Chelsea Market, a gastronomical wonderland for foodies. We were in the city in late February, and the weather was downright crappy. We were looking to kill some time, and a friend suggested we might want to check out the market.
It turns out, Chelsea Market became one of my favorite places in the city. From richly fudgy caramel brownies to Asian fusion to sourdough twists shoved full of dark chocolate chips and more, there were enough stands offering small bites that we could eat our way through the market tasting and sharing our food as we went. After visiting several stalls and wandering through some shops, we found our way to The Green Table, one of the earliest farm-to-table restaurants to hit NYC.
By that point, we weren’t overly hungry, but we did want some small bites to go with the flight of local hard ciders we had each ordered. I’m a sucker for roasted Brussel sprouts, so ordering up a dish of those was an easy call. Rachel suggested we try their “deviled farm eggs” which came in a batch of four styles: bacon, butternut squash, classic southern and a spicy variety I can’t quite remember. The butternut squash and bacon varieties were delicious. Like “please can I have another dozen” levels of delicious. The classic Southern was good, but nothing worth the inflated NYC food prices. I could leave the spicy version behind with no problem.
All in all, it was less about the individual versions of the deviled eggs than it was about the reminder to look at the concept of deviled eggs in a different way. After all, in a world where the A Flexible Life offices sit on a 22-acre farm with a few dozen free range hens constantly wandering around, eggs aren’t exactly something we ration. That makes them ripe for experimental recipes.
It wasn’t until more than a year later that I really got around to playing with the concept, though. I had flown to California a few days early for a wedding. The mother of the groom is one of my best friends, and she was laid up with an injury a few days before needing to host a rehearsal dinner for 40+ people at her house. As we looked over the menu and tried to figure out what we could pull off that would make a great impact, but require minimal work, I remembered those Chelsea Market deviled eggs.
We had planned an Italian fest as well as a bread and butter bar for the main course and figured it would make sense to have passed hors d’oeuvre for the first hour or so of the event. Prosciutto wrapped asparagus came together pretty quickly, as did mini bruschetta and endive leaves stuffed with an apple walnut salad. Deviled eggs became the perfect addition since we could make them in advance and store them in the fridge until they were ready.
We boiled, peeled and sliced all our eggs two days ahead of time, dividing up the yolks into four separate bowls. From there, it was as easy as running batches of filling through the food processor and then storing them in gallon size Ziplock bags. The day of the event, all we had to do was line up the egg whites on the trays, snip a hole in the ziplock bags and fill as we went. That meant no risk of weepy deviled eggs or smashed fillings. The eggs were a hit, with 40 guests devouring dozens and dozens of these bite size treats. (The bride even requested we include them in the bridal suite snacks the next morning before the wedding.)
We’ve featured all of these recipes on the blog over the past few months, so you’ll want to click into your favorite to get the actual recipe. Personally, I prefer the butternut squash and the caramelized onion and bacon ones, but for those who love buffalo blue cheese, you can’t go wrong with them either. As always, you need to include an original version for the purists, but I change mine up just a bit by using both spicy and yellow mustard and by throwing finely chopped green onions into the mix.
There are a million variations floating around out there and quite a few more we’ve decided we’d like to try. Roasted beet, avocado and a spicy Mexican chorizo version all sound pretty good to me. Let us know in the comments what your favorite style is, or what you’d like to see us play around with on our next deviled egg adventure.