STATEN ISLAND, NY – At present, restaurant owners have reported egg prices at an all-time high. Indeed, at the Hunts Point Wholesale Market in the Bronx this week, a case of 30 dozen large eggs fetched nearly $100. That’s double the price they were at the start of 2021. And it’s reminiscent of a past food that gives the article some mileage – deviled eggs.
Growing up in the 1970s, all the parties thrown on my mom’s side featured deviled eggs. The delicious creamy mayonnaise would be part of a spread for my grandmother’s neighbors at parties. At the Baptist church she attended in Brooklyn, fellow worshipers brought their own versions as a “covered dish” for gatherings.
Grandma wasn’t the best cook, so the whole process of peeling, slicing, and preparing the slippery orbs was somewhat remarkable. Although I believe people from the Great Depression and WWII can’t mess this food up. That said, she paired a platter of deviled eggs with potato salad, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, croissants and iced tea.
A RARE PIECE
Admittedly, I rarely see deviled eggs in the Staten Island edible arena. Lindsey Rimassa of Relish Caterers at Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Gardens said there was no call for evil creatures on the Livingston campus.
Chef Brian Kornbrekke of Taste of Honey at Nansen’s Lodge said, “I’ve seen a lot of new variations like a BLT deviled egg and a dill pickle deviled egg.” But other than that, he added that the bite was a “classic” and “a thing of the past”.
The point of being classic is actually an understatement. Chow was the stuff of the Romans, according to various dietary texts, and served as a spicy precursor to formal meals. According AncestralFindings.com, the diabolical treat has stood the test of time – egg cavities filled with medieval folk with raisins, flavored oils or cheeses. They would coat the boiled versions with sauces or sprinkle them with sugar.
Go back to the 20th century when Julia Child documented the fashion of the time – a base filling of cooked yolks, mixed mayonnaise, softened butter, salt and pepper. She suggested building things from there with finely chopped herbs, slivered blanched asparagus tips and curried onions.
Blue Smoke in Manhattan features deviled eggs on its restaurant menus. As a shared server during a visit there: it is so named for its traditional warmth.
HOW TO MAKE THEM
On the Italian side of our family, a treasured cookbook has made the rounds over the years – a Polly-O cookbook that cooked everything, including deviled eggs.
“Smart hostesses score social successes by serving these tempting delicacies — ricotta canapes that are easy to make and very appealing to serve,” the book explains.
The Polly-O fan formula includes 4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved lengthwise. The yolks should be strained through a sieve into a bowl, a treatment that gives a smooth result on the palate. From there, a cook should observe an equal amount of ricotta cheese to the yolk, add 1 teaspoon of dry mustard, minced onion, chopped capers, and 2-3 tablespoons of mayonnaise with salt and pepper, to taste .
The Polly-O folks say, “Pile the egg white halves and sprinkle lightly with paprika.”
Ed Canlon of Canlon’s Restaurant in Oakwood gives tips on how to cook six eggs. He makes it with 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon deli mustard, and a chopped jalapeno. Crumbled bacon finishes the dish.
Although high food costs are what they are right now, there’s still respect for an egg.
Pamela Silvestri is editor-in-chief of Advance Food. She can be reached at [email protected].