Saturday night Sarah hosted the third annual Holiday Oyster Extravaganza, in which we prepare and consume 100 oysters (along with a liberal dose of booze). Shucking 100 oysters is no easy feat, but Mark once again rose to the occasion. As usual, I was in charge of the oyster accoutrement. This year’s raw oysters got a toasted fennel mignonette and a beet and horseradish relish.
The Blue Points were delicious, but I’m here to talk eggs. Much as I love eggs in all their forms, I’ve had trouble keeping up with the share I get from my CSA, so I had resolved to prepare deviled eggs for Saturday’s party.
On Thursday night I wrapped up my third semester in NYU’s Food Studies program and went out with friends to toast a month of pleasure reading. I got home late and tipsy, but determined to get a head start on prepping for the party. Rooting through the fridge for a snack while my eggs cooked, I stumbled on some beets that were looking a little worse for the wear. This got me thinking.
A few years back a friend and I spent a weekend checking out Pennsylvania’s Amish Country. We had occasion to dine at a smorgasbord, where I stumbled on the delight that is a beet-pickled boiled egg. As previously confessed, I am a sucker for a hard-boiled egg. Throw in tangy flavor and an outlandish pink hue and I am putty in your hands.
Beet-Pickled Deviled Eggs
- 2 large beets
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 dozen eggs
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar (Bragg if you can get it)
- 3-4 tablespoons assorted pickling spices (I used black and red peppercorns, coriander, fennel, allspice, torn bay leaves, and probably something else I’m not thinking of at the moment.)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon dried mustard powder
- salt, pepper and whatever your taste buds tell you to add
- 2 scallions, greens thinly sliced and white portion reserved for another use
- Pre-heat the oven to 400. Rinse the beets, toss them with the olive oil in a small pan and stick in the oven. Cook until tender (about 45 minutes).
- Boil the eggs using your own technique or according to my interpretation of Betty Crocker’s failsafe recipe.
- Once the beets are cool enough to handle, peel and slice them. Add these to a large jar or a bowl along with the vinegar, salt, sugar and spices.
- Peel the eggs and add them to your brine, taking care not to splash the fuchsia liquid all over your white tank top.
- Place a lid or some plastic wrap over the top and pop it in the refrigerator. Let these sit for 12 to 24 hours, stirring at least once to make sure they take the color evenly. I left mine in the brine until I got home from my office holiday party the following night and this is what they looked like.
- Fish the eggs out, pop them in the fridge to dry, and snack on the pickled beets. Still not a good time for a white tank top.
- Carefully slice your eggs in half lengthwise and pop the yolks into a bowl. If you’ve left them in for the full 24 hours, the yolks will be quite a sight, as will the paper towel where you set the halved eggs.
- Using a fork, mash the yolks roughly with the mayonnaise, mustard, mustard powder, salt, plenty of freshly-ground pepper and anything else that strikes your fancy. Press the mixture through a sieve for a refined, creamy filling. Or don’t. Taste the mixture and tweak as you see fit. I added a pinch of sugar and probably some other stuff I can’t recall.
- Let the filling chill until just before you are ready to serve. Spoon it into a freezer-worthy plastic bag, snip the corner and pipe the filling directly into the egg (not so) whites. Or just glob it in with a spoon.
- Garnish with the scallion greens because none of the crappy stores you went to had chives and a little green makes the eggs look more like food and less like some sort of alien life form.
The eggs were a smashing success, as was the party. The guests laughed. The Christmas tree twinkled. The yule log crackled on the flat-screen television. At some point in the night, Prosecco and oysters gave way to rum and hunks of leftover cheese. Eventually, I was forced to brave the elements. A daylong snowfall had turned into freezing rain. The streets were slushy and abandoned.