Anatomy of a Classic

Spring Herb Deviled Eggs in the Shell

Serves 6

A breakthrough approach to deviled eggs

photo: Johnny Autry


Chef Anne Quatrano loves eggs, which is a good thing since the chickens on her farm north of Atlanta can lay three hundred a day. “I think eggs are the complete food,” she says. “I could eat them three times a day.” When she’s running between her four restaurants, sometimes she’ll swing into her store, Star Provisions, on Atlanta’s west side, and grab a piece of cheese, a hard-boiled egg, and a piece of toast. “The perfect lunch,” she says.

It’s fitting, then, that Quatrano has taken to putting her own spin on the deviled egg, something she, like most Southerners, grew up eating. Her mother mixed in pickle relish, her grandmother a bit of bacon. But Quatrano, who has an eye for turning something simple into something remarkable, makes two separate and seasoned mediums from the yolk and the white, then layers them inside a hollowed eggshell. A perfect spoonful contains a bit of each, punctuated with a pop of roe from a trout or a salmon.

To make these, you need to be mindful of texture. The yolks are blended until they’re creamy and the whites pushed through a sieve so they stay a touch fluffy. Then comes the fussy part: creating the eggshell cup. I’m not a fan of too many gadgets, but using an inexpensive egg topper really is the easiest way to cleanly slice off the tip of the shell. Of course, you could forgo the shell altogether and simply layer the mixtures into a small glass or a demitasse cup.

Quatrano first made her deviled eggs for a Southern supper four years ago in New York. She liked them so much she put a version in her book, Summerland. The recipe here offers a springtime tweak on the concept. Whatever the flavor profile, the genius is in providing a graceful way to indulge in one of the most awkward snacks in the Southern culinary canon. “A deviled egg is too big for one bite, so you have to fight it and it caves in and you always end up with a little egg on your face and hands,” she says. “This was our idea to make it a little neater.”


Ingredients

  • Filling

    • 10 eggs

    • 3 tbsp. plus 1/4 cup Duke's mayonnaise

    • 1 tbsp. water

    • 1/2 tsp. white wine vinegar

    • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

    • 1/2 tsp. paprika

    • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper. Salt to taste

    • Juice of 1 lemon

    • 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh chervil or tarragon, plus more for garnish

    • 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh chives, plus more for garnish

    • 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish

    • Fresh cracked pepper to taste

    • 8 oz. trout or salmon roe or caviar

  • Egg Wash

    • 6 eggs

    • 2 qts. warm water

    • 1 tbsp. distilled vinegar


Preparation

  1. For the filling: 

    In a large pot, cover the eggs with cold water and bring to a boil. Remove pot from the stove, and cover for 6 minutes. Then transfer eggs to an ice bath to prevent overcooking. Once they’ve cooled slightly, peel off shell, and separate yolks and whites.

     

  2. To make the yolk mixture, blend yolks, 3 tablespoons mayonnaise, water, vinegar, mustard, paprika, and cayenne until it reaches the consistency of mayo. (If the puree is too stiff, add a little more water.) Season with salt, transfer to a pastry or ziplock bag, and refrigerate until final egg assembly.

  3. To make the white mixture, pass egg whites through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, and add remaining mayonnaise and lemon juice.  Mix well and add the herbs. Season with salt and cracked pepper, transfer to a pastry or ziplock bag, and refrigerate until final egg assembly.

  4. Preparation and Egg Wash:

    Hold each egg pointed end up and use an egg topper—an inexpensive tool available at most cooking stores—to gently crack and remove the top of each shell.  (If you don’t have an egg topper, use the tip of a small sharp paring knife to run a crack around the top of the shell until you can lift it off.) Once the tops have been cleanly removed, empty the contents and store for later use. Combine warm water and vinegar in a pot, and soak empty shells 5–10 minutes; remove and carefully peel and discard the inner membrane. Let shells dry, then transfer to an egg carton.

  5. Assembly: 

    Just before serving, pipe the egg white mixture about halfway up each shell. Next, pipe the yolk mixture, filling about another ¼ of the shell. Garnish with herbs and a spoonful of roe or caviar.

Meet the Chef: Anne Quatrano

Current restaurants: Bacchanalia, Quinones at Bacchanalia, Abattoir, and Floataway Café, Atlanta, GA
Hometown: Fairfield, CT
Favorite Kitchen tool: A small offset spatula. “It does anything, really.”
Kitchen quirk: Making sure all the utensils and containers in her restaurants are completely dry. “I’m weird about it. I feel like water carries germs.”
What she doesn’t like when she eats out: Too much server interaction. “It makes me feel like I have to start a relationship with you.”


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