Virginia Willis' Deviled Eggs

By • March 30, 2012 18 Comments

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Author Notes: By combining her Southern sensibilities with the restraint of her French training, Virginia Wills' deviled eggs just do everything right. There is a secret ingredient here, one that Willis picked up in culinary school: butter, just a tad. Mixed in while it's soft, it rounds and smooths over the more acidic ingredients and renders the filling creamy without overtaking it. A few classic players -- mayonnaise, dijon and cayenne -- hover at the edges, so the richness of the yolk still shines. A speckling of fresh herbs stirred in at the end lifts everything up. Adapted very slightly from Bon Appetit, Y'all(Ten Speed Press, 2008)Genius Recipes

Makes 24 deviled eggs

  • 12 large eggs (about a week old if possible -- they'll be easier to peel)
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon, chives, or chervil, plus leaves for garnish
  1. To hard-cook the eggs, place the eggs in a saucepan and add water to cover them by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat (you will see bubbles around the sides of the pot). Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 12 minutes. Drain the eggs and rinse them under cold running water. Set aside to cool completely.
  2. To peel the eggs, once the eggs have cooked and cooled, remove the shells by tapping each egg gently on the counter or sink all over to crackle it. Roll an egg between your hands to loosen the shell. Peel, starting at the large end, while holding the egg under running cold water; this facilitates peeling and also removes any stray shell fragments.
  3. To prepare the filling, halve the peeled eggs lengthwise. Carefully remove the yolks. Set the whites aside. Pass the yolks through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl or place them in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Blend the yolks, mayonnaise, butter, mustard, and cayenne, and mix until smooth; season with salt and pepper. Add the finely chopped tarragon.
  4. Place the mixture in a piping bag fitted with a large star tip, or use a medium sealable plastic bag with one of the corner tips snipped off.
  5. To assemble the eggs, when ready to serve, pipe the yolk mixture into the whites. Garnish with additional herbs and serve immediately.
  6. To make ahead: Unpeeled hard-cooked eggs can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. Or prepare the eggs, but don’t assemble, up to 8 hours in advance of serving; refrigerate the whites covered with a damp towel in an airtight plastic container. Store the egg-yolk mixture in the piping bag with the tip also covered in a damp paper towel. Knead the yolk mixture slightly to soften before filling the yolks. The eggs may also be assembled and stored covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 hours. Any longer and the yolk mixture starts to form a crust.

More Great Recipes: Hors d'oeuvres|Snacks|Eggs|Appetizers

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Comments (18) Questions (2)


5 months ago Pat in SoCal

I've added butter for years...and old Julia Child trick. And my team likes a thin slice of green olive or a caper on top. No paprika here!


8 months ago Jeff Shaffer

The secret of peeling a hard boiled egg is a PRICK. Before you put the eggs in the water prick the fat side, where the air pocket is, with a pin or sharp instrument. When the eggs are cooked take them out of the water and let them cool. Now, roll the egg on the counter to crack the shell. The shell just comes right off with no effort at all.


about 1 year ago robin lewis

Thank you for the photos!!!! I have made hard boiled eggs for years, often with varying steps that are sworn to work the best. The photo here of the real rolling boil is THE most helpful tip anyone should appreciate. I'm going to finish this recipe off in the morning for our block party's brunch.


about 1 year ago Gerri Walsh

I still make mine the way my mom did years ago. mayo, minced onion ,pickle relish mustard ,salt an pepper everyone in our family loves them. I will try adding a little butter sometime though . making them for our family get together on 4th. don't use a recipe either just taste as u go.


about 1 year ago Tammy

I think a deviled egg is a required taste of how we were brought up. In my family that originated from Oklahoma but found home in Oregon, I think this recipe might be a Southern thing. We like our deviled eggs tarty and flavorful. After boiling the eggs I keep the cold running water running over the eggs in the pan as I'm peeling the eggs under the cold running water keeping your hand wet with the cold water the shell just slides off. Once peeled cut eggs in half and dump yolks into a small bowl and lay whites on a plate line with paper towels. Once you get the yolks in a bowl I then put white vinegar on the eggs, not sure how much just enough to where they start to swell then mix with a fork till blended. Then start tasting and adding salt, pepper, and I like jalapeno's in mine, mix it up more with a tad mustard and mayo Best Foods. By now there should not be no lumps. Put into the whites and sprinkle with smoky paprika. Not sure why but that really does make a difference. I go by taste not measurements, sorry. It's how I have learned from my grandma.


over 1 year ago Kasey Wills

In order to avoid the ring around the edge of the yolk all you need to do is put them directly into an ice bath after steaming them. That ring is just an indicator that you have overcooked the eggs.


over 1 year ago KirstenS

I think it was Andrew Knowlton in Bon App who suggested that instead of butter, you could fry up some bacon and use the bacon fat instead, and then garnish the eggs with bacon. It is some tasty goodness...


over 1 year ago Allison Dickey

I still prefer the old, tried and true recipe with mayonnaise, a bit of mustard, pickle relish, salt, pepper and paprika.


over 2 years ago artist342

I'll be trying these beauties this weekend! I can't wait for the butter flavor.


about 3 years ago JohnSkye

i made these on the 4th and here's my take: they're "ok" ... the taste is fine, & based on your personal preferencees you could add more or less mustard, more or different herbs, put a slice of olive on top, etc, etc, etc ... the "problem" is the consistency ... i like chilled, but soft, creamy deviled eggs ... but the addition of the butter makes the yolk mixture of these turn into firm little clumps when chilled ... interesting, but not my favorite ... they were better either before they were refrigerated or after they warmed up a bit and got soft.


over 1 year ago JohnL

This recipe reminds me of both Sheila Lukins' "Heavenly Deviled Eggs" (my current favorite) and a recipe that Fran McCullough has put in at least two of her "Best American Recipes" cookbook series, called "Parsi Deviled Eggs." The Lukins recipe became my instant favorite, with its tarragon/herbal flavors, while the Parsi recipe contained butter (1 TB for 6 large eggs, so the proportion is the same as in this recipe), but neither the taste nor texture of Parsi blew me away. Fran loves the recipe so much that I prepared it twice just to be sure I hadn't made some prep or measuring error. Didn't love Parsi. But I do love a good deviled egg every now and then, so I will at some point try this recipe to see if Sheila has any competition!


over 1 year ago JohnL

I gave the Parsi Deviled Eggs one last try and found that if I added a little extra honey and lime juice, and I could see why Fran likes them so much. And I have discovered a new spice blend called Tajin (a mild flaked chile and dehydrated lime juice sprinkle) which really goes great on the eggs. It is great on many foods, and worth seeking out at your ethnic grocer (Asian or Latino).


over 3 years ago Chokolate911

Since reading this post I have tried adding butter and was amazed at the results. You must try them!!


over 3 years ago Ronald Harper

My mom always added some sweet pickled relish. But I don't know how much. It was good.


over 3 years ago scottd1

I have backyard hens and their fresh eggs are difficult to peel, even a week old. However, steaming makes them peel easily. I steam them 14 minutes for small, 15-16 for large.


over 1 year ago Allison Dickey

Thanks for the tip. I'll try this next time I want hard "boiled" eggs.


over 3 years ago ItalianFoodie

And I sprinkle a few capers on top of each. I need to make two dozen. My brother can eat a dozen in no time. He's a three biter - likes to make it last.


over 3 years ago tigerlille

What. perfect timing. I was getting ready to hard boil some eggs, and
was trying to recall the right way to do it (you know, to avoid the ubiquitious
green ring around the yolk referenced in the article). Deviled egg filling made
with butter is divine! I had somehow forgotten all about that refinement. I also
substitute about half the mayo with sour cream. A version I have been making
the past few years is honey mustard deviled eggs.