The first written recipe for something that resembles modern deviled eggs appeared in Europe in the late 1500s. It instructed cooks to mix the yoke with raisins, cheese and various spices. It wasn’t until the 18th century, however, that the name deviled eggs appeared, the deviling aspect equated to the addition of spicy condiments. Since then deviled eggs have become a mainstay at group meals, from potluck gatherings to backyard barbecues. If you wish, you can prepare the eggs two days before your event for ease of service.
Pick Perfect Specimens
Look at the eggs before you purchase them. Never buy a carton with a cracked egg or any sign of leakage. Such imperfections can lead to contamination and food poisoning. Also check the carton for the expiration date and a U.S. Department of Agriculture marking. The date appears as a three digit code, 001 indicating the first day of the year, and 365 indicating December 31. Find the freshest and largest eggs possible for your snacking creation. Make sure to put the eggs directly into your refrigerator when you get home from the store. They can remain there for three to five weeks after purchase provided the temperature remains at 45 degrees Fahrenheit or less.
Preparation Precedes the Picnic
To properly hard-boil your eggs, put them in a saucepan so that they make one even layer. Cover them completely with cold water plus 1 inch over the top of the eggs. Bring the eggs to a full rolling boil, cover them and remove them from the heat. Leave the pot, covered, for 15 minutes. If you purchased smaller eggs, reduce this time by three minutes for medium-sized eggs. Pour off the hot water and immerse them in an ice bath until cooled completely. You can keep the hard-boiled eggs in the refrigerator for a week, or go ahead and prepare the deviled eggs.
The Devil Is in the Details
Cut the eggs in half lengthwise and gently remove the yolk. Put the yolk into a bowl for adding flavor and mixing the filling. Common components for deviled eggs include mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. All of these ingredients have long shelf lives, with mustard lasting six to eight months, Worcestershire sauce lasting two years, and an open jar of refrigerated mayonnaise lasting two to three months. This longevity contributes to your ability to make the deviled eggs ahead of time with little worry. Just fill each egg half to the top with the seasoned yolk and decorate it with paprika.
Add a Dash of Willpower
Immediately store the deviled eggs in the refrigerator at a temperature of 40 F or lower. Put them in an airtight glass or plastic container, or cover them tightly with plastic wrap until serving time two days later. An inconspicuous location at the back of the fridge offers the best chance for successful storage. Continue practicing food safety during service by offering small plates kept cold on a bed of ice. No matter what, never let the eggs sit out at room temperature for more than two hours. After that point, throw them away.
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