The comfort-food craze continues. But truffled mac 'n' cheese is starting to feel tired. The latest thing to travel from grandma's repertoire to well-dressed tables? The deviled egg.
Restaurant Eve in Alexandria features tiny deviled quail eggs on brioche with osetra caviar as an amuse bouche, and the Inn at Easton's Andrew Evans dresses his version with white-truffle butter.
The Neapolitan-pizza restaurant 2 Amys serves its eggs with a green sauce of capers, and fresh herbs. At Mendocino Grill in Georgetown, chef Drew Trautmann spikes quail eggs with Spanish paprika and serves them as a side dish to entrées such as grilled octopus. Gillian Clark of Colorado Kitchen makes a "green eggs and ham" version, with avocado and minced ham.
Downtown DC restaurant David Greggory offers three varieties of deviled eggs: flavored with bacon and smoky paprika; shallot and caper; or arugula and black pepper. And for your next party, Occasions caterers will bring a "Northern" egg, made with chives, capers, red onion, and caviar, and a "Southern" variety, punched up with smoked paprika, Tabasco, and remoulade.
This past fall, the Southern Foodways Alliance, dedicated to preserving the cooking of the American South, held a deviled-egg contest. Along with recipes, contestants offered memories of deviled or "stuffed" eggs. There were stories of Mississippi church suppers, Alabama picnics, New Orleans Easter lunches, and Kentucky Derby parties (you can read them at southernfoodways.com).
In the book Being Dead Is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral, Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays point out that deviled eggs, along with pimento cheese and tomato aspic, are Southern "funeral staples."
"A polite civil war," they write, "rages over whether sweet or savory is preferable in stuffed eggs." Arguments go on: sweet pickle relish or Tabasco Sauce? Homemade mayonnaise or Hellmann's? It's a matter of taste–and family tradition.
Food writer David Rosengarten readies his eggs for cocktail hour with sherry and fresh crabmeat. Galileo chef Roberto Donna suggests mixing in some salsa verde (a purée of olive oil, parsley, red-wine vinegar, garlic, anchovies, capers, and bread), and topping each egg with a sliver of olive-oil-preserved Italian tuna. For something more traditional, try Vidalia chef Jeffrey Buben's recipe:
Vidalia Deviled Eggs
Jeffrey Buben uses duck eggs from the Dupont Circle farmers market, but chicken eggs also work well.
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon butter, softened
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon cornichon, finely minced
2 tablespoons Vidalia onion, finely minced
1 teaspoon Colman's dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon La Chinata smoked paprika
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Optional: two slices country ham, cooked then minced
Cover the eggs with cold water in a large saucepan and add 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let stand for ten minutes. Shock the eggs in cold water, then peel them.
Split the eggs in half and remove the yolks to a bowl.Using the back of a fork, mash them with the mayonnaise and butter until smooth. Add all remaining ingredients but paprika and ham, and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.
Fill a pastry bag with the yolk mixture and pipe into the hollowed whites. Top with the minced ham and a sprinkle of paprika.