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Here at Food52, we love recipes -- but do we always use them? Of course not. Because once you realize you don't always need a recipe, you'll make your favorite dishes a lot more often.
Today: Food52's Associate Editor, Kenzi Wilbur, shows us how to make deviled eggs without a recipe, for all your Easter, Derby Day, and spring brunch needs.
Most of the time, we’d rather let good food be good on its own. We simply blanch and season spring's first asparagus; the only thing we give a good steak is a good sear; and we know that a tomato in the height of August needs nothing but a sprinkle of salt. To imperialize great food -- to overtake it with sauce, to meddle -- is only to cover it up.
But there’s an exception to this rule, and it’s the hard-cooked egg, which begs for a little help. It begs for deviling.
And so we devil: We remove the yolks, in hopes of making them better than the chicken could have ever dreamed, and we plunk them back from whence they came, new and improved and delicious next to a cold cocktail.
How to Make Deviled Eggs Without a Recipe
1. First, hard-cook your eggs and peel them. (If it’s possible, use week-old eggs for ease of peeling.) I like to bring eggs and water to a boil, then cover the pot and let them sit, off the heat, for 12 minutes. This is how I peel.
2. Slice your eggs from pole to pole, wiping your knife in between each, lest any stray yolk get in the way of your next clean cut.
3. Tip the yolks out of their egg white cradles and into a bowl, then add your mix-ins. For 6 eggs, I like to use a scant 1/4 cup of best-quality mayonnaise, a teaspoon-sized spoonful of Dijon mustard, a sprinkle of salt, and a three-finger pinch of chives.
But you’re free to experiment: Use less mayonnaise, more, or half Greek yogurt; all manner of herbs (tarragon is nice, as is dill); or paprika or cayenne if you like (I rarely like). Deviled eggs are an exercise in playing, in adding a little of this and a little of that. They defy measuring cups and spoons.
Mash all of this with a fork to combine. If you like a smoother filling, push the yolks through a fine-mesh strainer before you mash, or use a food processor. Taste. If the mixture needs a kick, give it a squeeze of lemon.
4. Now put back the yolks: Using a spoon and your finger or a piping bag, fill the sliced whites with your yolk mixture. If you don’t have a piping bag but would like the same effect, just fill a zip-top bag and snip off a corner like so.
5. Garnish with more of the herbs you used and flaky salt. Eat one -- to test -- before you serve. Eat another if you’re not sure. Bring to the party or the pool or the potluck.
Photos by James Ransom