By Lori Powell
At this time of the year, I begin to run out of options on what to do with my larder of multiplying eggs from 16 heirloom chickens. Chickens, like a lot of people, respond better to sunlight and are rather productive during the long days of summer. As the days grow shorter, my supply begins to diminish.
I try to keep up with the incoming eggs by making them outgoing. I use various cooking techniques or just give them away to anyone who has done me the slightest good deed or favor. Actually, it’s pretty handy, like the virtual gift closet (yes, like Martha I do have one of those as well) but perishable and possibly a little more personal and homey.
For the unexpected guest or company that might call and say that they are stopping by in a few, having a dozen eggs hard boiled in your fridge at the ready is a grand convenience, plus a very portable breakfast on hand on any given morning. I don’t know many people who wouldn’t like a good old-fashioned deviled or stuffed egg – especially ones from backyard chickens.
I keep one egg carton labeled, “hard-boiled.” On those mornings where even coffee will not help keep my weary eyes open, having the cooked ones labeled is a caution to keep from cracking one that is not. A spilled egg is like spilled honey or oil…very hard to clean up, especially when I’m not so limber at an early hour.
Note: Given the recent egg crisis, you might want to consider buying local and seeking out the farmer or the small producer of organic and free-range eggs.
For hard-boiled eggs, be sure to use ones that are a week or two old; otherwise the egg shell won’t have taken in enough air (they are extremely porous) and they’ll be too difficult to peel.
To Hard Boil:
Fill a large saucepan with cold water and add about 6 large eggs. Bring water to a simmer, uncovered, and remove pan from heat. Immediately cover and let eggs poach for 15 to 16 minutes. At this point, since my eggs are all different sizes, I check the largest one by sacrificing it to see if it is cooked just right.
To check for doneness, with a slotted spoon, remove an egg and crack and rinse under cold water. Peel and cut in half to ensure that the yolk is cooked through. If the yolk is cooked, immediately drain the remaining eggs and plunge in a bath of ice and cold water while cracking the shells on the side of the bowl. This will enable easier peeling since it will allow the membrane surrounding the egg to separate from the egg and shell. Let stand in cold water until cooled and then peel the eggs. Rinse with water to remove any still-clinging shells.
Basic Stuffed Eggs
Serves 1 or 2 depending on your appetite
2 hard-boiled eggs
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon each sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sprinkle of paprika
- Peel eggs, halve lengthwise and pop the yolks into a small bowl.
- With a fork, mash the yolks with the remaining ingredients until smooth.
- Fill the cavities of the whites by spooning in the mashed yolk mixture. Chill, lightly covered, until ready to serve. Sprinkle with paprika just before serving.
Dressed Up Eggs:
- To devil them, stir in ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Add fresh chopped herbs to taste, such as tarragon, chives, basil or dill (about 1 teaspoon for the above recipes), or a mix of herbs.
- Instead of hot or sweet paprika as the garnish in the above recipe, use smoked paprika
- Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of sweet or dill pickle relish to the mustard version
- Instead of all mayonnaise, do a mix of sour cream and mayo
- Add drained bottled horseradish to taste
- Add hot sauce to taste
- Chopped bacon
- Sliced scallion
- Salmon roe
- Fresh herb sprigs
- Chopped red onion
- Chopped fresh tomato
- Toasted sesame seeds
- Chopped chives
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