Like Easter eggs hidden away for holiday hunts, the deviled variety have a way of showing up unexpectedly.
Almost any celebration or buffet presentation could include this crowd-pleasing classic, says Mary Shaw, who plans a deviled-egg demonstration Saturday at Ashland Food Co-op.
"They're easy to prepare, and everybody loves them," says the Co-op's culinary-education specialist.
The harmless but unsightly discoloration around hard-boiled egg yolks is caused by a reaction between sulfur in the egg white and iron in the yolk when eggs have been cooked for too long or at too-high temperatures. Cooking eggs in hot — not boiling — water, then cooling immediately minimizes this.
The American Egg Board offers this method for perfectly hard-boiled eggs every time:
Place eggs in a saucepan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Add cold water to cover eggs by 1 inch. Heat over high heat just to boiling. Remove from burner. Cover pan.
Let eggs stand in hot water for about 12 minutes for large eggs (nine minutes for medium eggs, 15 minutes for extra large). Drain immediately and cool completely under cold, running water or in a bowl of ice water, then refrigerate.
— McClatchy News Service
It's also easy to put new flavor profiles on deviled eggs, says Shaw, by thinking of them in the same way as omelets.
"You could make a Spanish omelet or an Italian omelet," she says. "They're a blank slate, and you could flavor them in any ethnic way imaginable."
Newer recipes for deviled eggs contain anything from cashews to caviar. Celebrity chef Hugh Acheson adds smoked, hot paprika for heat and garnishes the filling with chopped fresh chives, cooked lobster, cooked bacon, chopped ham, cooked chanterelles, pickled shrimp or pickled okra. In his cookbook "A New Turn in the South," Acheson writes that "deviled eggs need to have a kick, or you have made stuffed eggs and left the devil out. Life gets boring without a little devilish influence."
Here are a few more ways to spice up basic deviled-egg filling:
Flavored in imaginative ways, deviled eggs also an be creatively colored using food-based dyes. The Co-op's demonstration will feature an all-natural egg-dyeing kit made by Ashland-based Earth Paints to decorate hard-boiled eggshells.
"People are more concerned about what's in dyes," says Shaw.
Dyeing the egg's edible white, however, was the focus of a past year's event. Food-based pigments — turmeric for yellow-orange, beets for pink and red cabbage for blue — heighten the visual impact of a deviled-egg platter, says Shaw. After peeling, the eggs were steeped in the dyes, then cut open, the yolks removed and restuffed with the finished filling.
Peeling eggs, as many cooks know, is easiest when they're not so fresh. It's also best to peel them right after cooling, which causes the egg to contract slightly in the shell.
Gently tap an egg on the countertop until its shell is finely crackled all over. Roll the egg between your hands to loosen the shell. Start peeling at the large end, holding the egg under cold, running water to help ease the shell off.
Peeled eggs should be eaten the same day. In the shell, hard-boiled eggs may be refrigerated safely for up to one week. Refrigerate them in their original carton to prevent odor absorption.
"The shell of an egg does breathe," says Shaw.
Reach Food Editor Sarah Lemon at 541-776-4487 or email email@example.com. McClatchy News Service contributed to this story.