Devotees of the electric pressure cooker swear there isn’t anything the device can’t do: They make everything from blueberry yogurt to steak fajitas in the Instant Pot (or similar appliance with a different brand name.) While researching her forthcoming cookbook, Instantly Southern, Fearrington Village, North Carolina-based food writer Sheri Castle discovered the vaunted pot isn’t ideal for every dish. But, she says, “I would spend $100 on it if the only thing I could make it in were eggs.”
For hard-boiled egg fans who have fought hard-to-peel shells, nicked whites, and ashen yolks, the electric pressure cooker is a game changer. And if the new technology is as widely adopted as home kitchen experts predict, it could represent a watershed for one of the South’s favorite dishes, deviled eggs.
“I hated making deviled eggs,” says April McGreger, owner of Farmer’s Daughter Pickles & Preserves in Carrboro, North Carolina. “They’re crazy-making for my perfectionist tendencies: I always end up making egg salad, but you can’t take egg salad to parties.”
Since acquiring an electric pressure cooker, McGreger has started making deviled eggs on a regular basis. “It’s kind of miraculous,” she says. McGreger cooks her eggs for three minutes at high pressure in the pot’s steamer basket insert, and then soaks them in cold water. “The magic of that method is high pressure loosens the shells,” she says. “You don’t have any of that sticking, so you get nice shiny hard-boiled eggs.”
Shells were long McGreger’s main vexation, because fresh eggs are notoriously hard to peel when boiled, and McGreger’s eggs come from backyard chickens she keeps. (Older eggs slip their shells more easily.) Now she can perk up her deviled egg platters with the “super bright yellow yolks” of just-gathered eggs.
Like McGreger, Castle recommends using a steamer basket for hard-boiled eggs. But she suggests cooking them on low pressure for 12 minutes before an ice bath. Castle also cautions against cooking fewer than three eggs at a time, or more eggs than comfortably fit in the basket. “It’s important the eggs are in a single layer,” she says.
Then, pour one cup of water over the eggs. That’s the entirety of the secret to eggs that “peel like a dream,” Castle says, with “no green rings, no rubbery whites and yolks like talc.” All that’s left for the deviled egg maker to do is mix mayonnaise and something acidic—Castle likes chow chow brine or pickle juice—into the mashed yolks.
As Castle puts it, “This is revelatory.”