I do, deviled eggs
Since the afternoon of our engagement, when we strolled Brooklyn in the late sun, squinting at the strange new ray of light from my ring finger, we’ve been planning what I call a big party with a ceremony on the side. We knew that we wanted a summertime setting, but seeing as it was already late March, that made timing a little tricky. We didn’t want to rush. We wanted time to play with the details and, most importantly, to enjoy each other in the process. We’re also picky, and being picky is most pleasant, I find, when you’re not in a hurry.
So with all that in mind, and with historical weather data on our side, we have set a date and, so far, a few key details. We will be married on July 29, 2007, in a smallish town outside of Seattle, on the coast. Our ceremony will take place in a park by the water, with dinner a short walk away. I will come down the aisle on my mother’s arm, swathed in twenty strapless yards of Chantilly lace. And then there will be deviled eggs.
I love deviled eggs. They may be a stale stowaway from the 1950s and the ugly stepchild of every family barbeque, but damn it, I do not care. When properly made, there is no two-bite package more perfectly suited to a summer day than a cool hard-boiled egg white with a creamy filling. If you feel any degree of fondness for egg salad, it’s pure hypocrisy to diss the deviled egg. Rich with mayonnaise, tangy with mustard, and with a spicy, tingly edge, it’s the lowly egg’s best shot at becoming something fancy—America’s answer, I suppose you could say, to the French soufflé.
And these days, that something fancy can be pretty fancy indeed, with toppings that go beyond the usual dusting of musty paprika. A deviled egg with caviar is a nice surprise, or smoked salmon or a little bit of curry. I’ve even seen them breakfast-style, with shards of bacon and fine, crispy breadcrumbs. What style we’ll serve at the wedding is still to be determined—and we do, phew, have fourteen months to decide—but what I made this weekend was awfully nice.
A messy union of Americana and classic French cuisine, this deviled egg is fitted with a saucy hat of crabmeat ravigote, a cold sauce with—depending on who you ask—a mayonnaise or vinaigrette base flavored with fresh herbs. The sweet, mild flavors of crabmeat and egg are a natural pair already, but combine them in a cloud of mayonnaise shot through with summer herbs, and you’ve got something worth planning for—even fourteen months ahead.
Deviled Eggs with Crabmeat Ravigote
Adapted from Jeff Tunks and Chris Clime of Acadiana
I first tasted a version of these eggs at Washington, D.C.’s Acadiana, a “contemporary interpretation of a Louisiana fish house” that happens—full disclosure!—to be co-owned by one of my brothers. I may be biased, but I think these are uncannily good deviled eggs. If you should someday happen to find yourself near our nation’s capitol, go to Acadiana and order the trio of deviled eggs—but until then, make them yourself.
My first attempt at adapting the recipe yielded a deviled filling that was a tad too loose, as evidenced in the photographs above. I have adjusted the quantities below for what I hope will be a slightly more firm filling. Be sure to use good mayonnaise—preferably homemade—and buy the freshest crab possible.
4 large eggs
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
1 tsp Tabasco sauce
1 tsp Worchestershire sauce
6 Tbs good-quality mayonnaise, divided
2 ounces fresh lump crabmeat, such as Dungeness
1 tsp diced shallot
½ tsp minced garlic
½ tsp minced fresh thyme
½ tsp minced fresh Italian parsley
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
Finely chopped chives, for garnish
Fill a medium saucepan with water, and bring it to a boil. Place the eggs in the boiling water, and cook them for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, pour out the boiling water, and immediately run cold water over the eggs to cool them and stop the cooking process. When the eggs are cool, carefully peel them, and slice them in half lengthwise. Gently remove the yolks, and place them in a small mixing bowl. Set the whites aside.
Using a fork, mash the yolks well. Add the Dijon mustard, Tabasco sauce, Worchestershire sauce, 3 Tbs of the mayonnaise, and a pinch or two of salt. Whisk the mixture until it is creamy. Taste for seasoning, and adjust as necessary. Carefully spoon or pipe the yolk mixture back into the egg white halves.
In another small bowl, gently stir together the crabmeat, shallot, garlic, thyme, parsley, vinegar, and the remaining 3 Tbs of mayonnaise. Mix well. Divide the crabmeat mixture among the egg halves, and garnish with chives. Serve immediately.
Yield: 8 deviled eggs