I would say we eat a moderate amount of eggs in this household. I have enough friends with chickens that my fridge stays fairly stocked with farm-fresh eggs. Although “perimeter shopping” is the best way to eat right, I rarely have to hug that back wall of the grocery store to actually pay for eggs. Here we are at Easter time with eggs on the brain, so let’s take a look at all we can do with the incredible edible.
First off, how are you boiling your eggs? I’ve done it many ways. I’ve started with cold water, brought them to a rolling boil, taken them off the heat and covered them for 12 minutes. However, when I need to do multiple batches of eggs this proves difficult. The easiest method is to start with boiling water and ease those eggs in.
Reduce the heat to a good simmer and cook for about 13 minutes. When you extract them from the water they should not look wet. The moisture will disappear within a second or two. Some fancypants claim steaming your eggs will make them easier to peel. I’ve never done it, but I reckon you’d have to change the name from hard-boiled. Dyeing eggs is your own problem. I’m not getting into an argument over vinegar and tablets versus muddled foliage, but I will say my mom, Khaki, makes the prettiest Easter eggs by using one simple trick.
For a fantastic look she buys brown eggs. All the colors Paas can ever dream up look so much better a little darker and slightly subdued on the brown shell. There’s a certain Easter basket on a specific table that is full of these classic-looking beauties. I will miss them this year. Growing up we always got to write our names on the white eggs with white crayon before dyeing. It felt special having my personal touch, and these are things that keep kids in the kitchen. We also went through that phase of plastic sleeves.
Those shrink-wrap egg huggers were cool in the 1980s but were out of style by the time we could buy jeans with holes in them. I remember they were hard to unwrap when you wanted to eat one, and you didn’t get the cool color tint under the peel like with the dyed ones. This year’s trend is classic pastels and black, if you can find it. Once the hunt is over and the kids are in their mid-chocolate buzz, you are faced with the (welcomed) problem of too many boiled eggs. What is a boy to do? If you intend to eat them, take care to refrigerate them before and after hiding them. Refrigerated boiled eggs may last about a week. Get to cooking something before they expire.
The first thing that comes to mind is, of course, deviling the eggs. There are millions of recipes, but if I could keep mine close to the ones at Noble South that are topped with caviar, I’d be happy. I do others with great results, too, but I have a simple rule: for deviled eggs you may use only Hellman’s, Duke’s or Blue Plate mayonnaise, no exceptions. Oh, yeah, and try to use the paprika sparingly.
You probably have some leftover ham the day after Easter. If so, a ham-and-egg pie is a must. This oft-forgotten dish was a favorite of my childhood. It’s really perfect if that April cold snap we always get falls just after Sunday. I’ve given a recipe in the past. If you’re finding one on the web, keep it simple. Egg salad is a lunch box pleaser. We’ve already discussed the mayonnaise rule. The secret ingredient (if there is such a thing) in good egg salad is often mustard. If you don’t have fancy Dijon, then straight yellow will do. It’s just a squirt or two, don’t let the volume match the Duke’s. Maybe you cut out the mustard altogether and replace it with Sriracha — not for the faint of heart.
The other options are the crunch. If you want egg salad that is smooth and creamy, then by all means keep it boring. I used to enjoy it with a little sweet pickle relish like chicken salad. Green onions are great for egg salad. Celery is also a common addition to the dish. A little parsley or fresh dill can make a sandwich sparkle. Have you noticed that all these additions are the same color? Pickle them. That’s right. Don’t be afraid to pickle the boiled eggs.
There is an odd stigma associated with pickled eggs. Maybe because we’ve seen them in giant jars in convenience stores next to cigarettes and cash registers all over the country. If you’ve never sat in a shady dive of a bar with ceilings almost as low as the lights and stared at a gallon-sized glass vessel of eggs suspended in a uniquely pink solution until you mustered up the courage to try one with a Budweiser, then you and I are likely not very good friends.
The pickled egg is a delicacy. Making your own isn’t very hard. The key is to make sure your sterilize your jars and lids for maximum staying power. If done properly and refrigerated, pickled eggs can last over three months. The pink hue comes from beet juice. Take it or leave it.
Think about all the things boiled eggs make a little better. Potato salad sucks without them, no matter which grandma is making it. Both need the eggs. Tuna salad demands eggs, in my opinion. Boiled egg in giblet gravy is spectacular. Heck, just peel them and eat them with a little salt and pepper. Whether you are using white, brown or Roy G. Biv, take the time next week to do something worthwhile after all that chicken went through. I’m hungry enough I’m going to boil some right now.