Summer is fully upon us and weekend barbeques and cookouts have become a common theme, especially with the three and a half years of continuous winter we just experienced. We all have a summer picnic repetoire of delicious flame-grilled meat recipes, along with a veritable cornucopia of side dishes that have please for generations. But what if you’re looking for something different, something altogether unique for your next get together. Deviled eggs are the perfect platform for to try out a new recipe. They’re small and self-contained, easily recognizable, and fairly easy to put together. The question used to be: to add relish or not to add. But for this new side, about the only ingredient you’ll expect will be the eggs.
Hard cooked eggs (not hard boiled) are a fairly straight forward proposition. It’s easy to achieve that perfectly yellow, perfectly cooked yolk with a blissfully smooth, egg-shaped white evenly surrounding the yolk. But it’s just as easy to cook green yolks that appear to have been teleported inside a cratered and pock-marked meteorite—albeit a white meteorite. The perfect hard cooked eggs are achieved, like everything else, with time and patience.
Sixteen minutes of time to be exact. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The first marker of time and patience is the age of our eggs. Egg producers are required by law to put an expiration date on fresh eggs. This expiration date doesn’t actually correspond with when the eggs are inedible. Kept at refrigerated temperatures, your fresh eggs can last a month or two without any degradation in flavor or quality. They will, however, start to transform at the molecular level with the proteins that hold the yolk in place beginning to break down. And this is what we want. Older eggs are also much easier to peel. As a sidenote: older fresh eggs come out of the shells easier, but the whites don’t stay together as well, so plan to use your fresh eggs for fried or poached and older eggs in dishes where they are incorporated with other ingredients before cooking or emulsifying.
Back to the sixteen minutes. Older, fresh eggs should be placed in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover their tops by a half an inch. Eggs that float too high have a large air pocket which will produce a flat side on the cooked egg. You can either use these or replace the egg with one that doesn’t float as high. Heat the water over medium high heat until the water just begins to boil. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting, cover the eggs and set the timer for—you guessed it—sixteen minutes.
While the eggs cook, you can prepare their icebath. Cooling the cooked eggs as quickly as possible will ensure the shells release cleanly and easily. And they must be cooled completely. Once the time is up, pour the water off the eggs; if you crack a few shells in the process it won’t matter. Immediately immerse them in the icebath and allow the eggs to completely cool. If the ice melts, pour off some water and add more ice. Your eggs have completely cooled if you can hold the egg in your hand for a minute without feeling any warmth from the egg. Once they are cool, roll them on a hard surface to crackle the shell and peel.
What are we filling them with? Spinach and bacon among other ingredients, so let’s get cracking.
Spinach Bacon Deviled Eggs
- 10 extra large eggs, at least 3 weeks old, cooked, peeled and cut in half with yolks removed, arranged on a tray or in a deviled egg caddy
- ½ cup cooked, chopped spinach, pressed dry
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cooked, cooled and finely crumbled bacon
- 2 ½ tablespoons cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons softened butter
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 2 teaspoons fresh cracked black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon finely ground kosher salt
In the small workbowl of a food processor, process the yolks, mayonnaise, butter, vinegar, sugar, pepper and salt until the mixture is smooth. Pulse in the spinach and bacon to incorporate. Fill a disposable piping bag with the yolk filling. Cut the tip off the bag giving you a half-inch opening. Evenly fill each egg half with the filing. Cover and refrigerate the eggs for an hour to allow the flavors to meld and mellow. They can be eaten directly from the refrigerator but will taste better if allowed to come to room temperature.
Cook a couple extra eggs in case you have any that won’t peel cleanly for you.