All these years later and I can still hear my mother’s voice whenever I stare down at a plain hard boiled egg:
“Trevor, unless you are going to eat these eggs I’m not going to let you decorate any more of them. So are you going to eat them this year?”
“No. I just can’t.”
As the run-up to our family’s much-anticipated Easter Egg hunt would draw closer each year my mother would be presented with her familiar parenting conundrum: should she nurture her son’s budding egg decorating genius or risk squashing his creativity forever by insisting each egg decorated had to be consumed.
Because I wasn’t going to consume any of them.
“Trevor, unless you eat these eggs I’m not going to let you decorate any more of them.”
“No. I can’t.”
Every year it was the same fight. I wanted more eggs to decorate and she would insist that I will then have to eat them. But I wouldn’t. I couldn’t eat them.
For even just the slightest hint of their smell and I would gag. I would sometimes emphasize my point by offering up a demonstration.
“Oh Trevor. Please don’t do that.”
I may have exaggerated my aversion to many food items while a child so I must excuse my mom’s disbelief when it came to hard boiled eggs— but did we have to go through this every year?
By purposely taking another whiff of egg I would demonstrate to my mom that since the results could be duplicated there must be some sort scientific truth to my claims.
“Stop it. I’ll go make some more eggs for you to decorate. But you’d better eat some of them.”
And with that futile declaration mom would go back to the kitchen and boil up another dozen so I her egg decorating prodigy could further hone the egg decorating talents that wouldn’t really do much for his popularity in high school. My sister had pretty much opted out of all family eating situations by this time having declared she was going vegetarian to save the world. Or flexitarian or lacto-baco-vegan or pesca-no-hardboiledovotarian or whatever kind of world-saving diet she practiced that offers the flexibility to be superior-than-thou with her family yet still allows her eat anything she wants whenever it is something she really really wants to eat. Like bacon.
Since hard-boiled eggs came from chickens and chickens were not a part of her Earth-affirming religion of the time she was not going to be any help at all here. As usual.
Mom was good for consuming her full share of hard boiled eggs, if not a few more, yet even though she had none of the aversions of her children did she was no match for the three or four dozen eggs my annual talents would leave behind after “The Hunt.”
Mom would try a few times to surprise me by spiriting away an egg salad sandwich in my school lunch bag hoping perhaps that by noon I would be so hungry my gag reflex would abate and I could eat my sandwich. Nope. Once I noticed it in there it would be tossed away quickly in the bushes somewhere between my home and home room.
T.S. Eliot once wrote, “the progress of an artist was self-sacrifice” so if going hungry was what it was going to take to become the Rembrandt of egg decorating I was destined to be then so be it. I know many have given up far more than dinner for the benefit of mankind. Isn’t sacrificing for mankind what Easter is all about anyway?
Go eat an egg.
Thankfully, my aversion to the hardboiled egg would pretty much vanish when I got a bit older and I was able to manifest that superpower most adults can tap into that allows them to will any change in taste buds whatsoever whenever a fad health benefit from an otherwise gag-worthy food presents itself. (See “Kale.”)
Plain hard boiled eggs never became trendy but deviled eggs certainly did. Deviled eggs would find their way onto many hip restaurant bar and cocktail menus helped along by how easily they perform as a blank canvas for a chef’s culinary creativity. Of course their ability to soak up alcohol and their gluten-free, low-carb attribute didn’t hurt matters. any
Who wouldn’t will themselves to be a fan of lovelies under those conditions?
I have a lot less experience with pickled eggs. When I think of pickled eggs I usually think of those five gallon jars filled with eggs that sit by the cashier at road stop gift shops. It makes sense though. If there is one way to do away with that sulfuric quality that makes one prone to gag it I’m sure soaking for days in flavored vinegar and brine would do it. Right?
Imagine how good hard boiled eggs can be when they can be both deviled and pickled?
Beet Pickled Eggs (and Deviled too!)
If you are in a hurry you can dig straight into these beet pickled eggs after one day in the pickling liquid. Their exteriors will have a nice rosy glow and make for an attractive presentation. I prefer to wait two or three days and then make them up into these delicious beet pickled deviled eggs when the color has seeped in just enough but not all the way through the egg whites.
If you are skipping the deviling step please realize that this brine recipe is relatively low in salt and sugar so the eggs won’t come to their full pickled potential for about 3 to 5 days. (You can still devil them but the white will not be evident at that point.)
Anyone who has ever seen those huge vats of pickled eggs at the truck stop gas station cash register knows that these things will keep for a very long time in their jar. Still, I suggest keeping them in the refrigerator and eating them within a week. Once you devil them, however, eat them right away!
For something that intuitively seems so easy there is much discussion on how to make the perfect hard boiled egg. If you boil the heck out of them they will yield sulfury, smelly eggs eggs with that awful green skin on the yolk. Done right the yolks are moist and fluffy and won't have any smell.
My friend Brandon has written up a fool proof method for perfect peelable eggs every time. It is worth a try if you have a good probe thermometer. (And everyone should, right?.) I wrote up a less fussy method over 4 years ago that always served me well when I remember that older eggs will always peel a lot easier.
This is what you will need:
- 1 medium red beet, unpeeled
- 1 1/3 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 5 small dried red chiles
- One 3-inch cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 12 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
- I clove garlic, minced
- Dash of Worcestershire sauce
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- ground mustard
This is how you make it:
- Wash and scrub the beet, trim and discard the ends, and slice the beet into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Pour 3 cups cold water into a saucepan and add the beet, vinegar, sugar, peppercorns, chiles, cinnamon stick, coriander seeds, and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
- Put hard boiled eggs one by one into a 1 quart canning jar or other storage container with an airtight lid. Pour the pickling liquid over the eggs to cover completely. Refrigerate for 24 hours minimum. Eggs will take on more red color of the beets the longer you let them. It is a good idea to lightly jostle the container after a few hours so the eggs will color evenly.
- Using a knife with a very sharp blade, slice each egg in half lengthwise and clean the blade after each cut with a paper towel to avoid staining the egg whites.
- Scoop yolks into mixing bowl. Mash with fork until fluffy. Add olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, anchovy paste , minced garlic, Worcestershire , salt and pepper . Mix until creamy, and adjust seasoning to taste.
- Select the 20 best - looking egg whites (yes, appearance matters!) and, using a small spoon scoop yolk mixture into each. Arrange on a plate and then garnish with a couple turns of the pepper grinder or a dash of ground mustard.
The eggs in pickling liquid will keep in a jar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. After deviling they are best served within 12 hours but will keep covered in the refrigerator up to 24 hours.