Newly trendy or not, there’s no classier snack to start a party than a platter of devilled eggs. There’s a graciousness about them; they look like you put effort into making them, and to be fair you did, albeit quite happily, with a drink in your hand and your party playlist on.
More importantly, they’re substantial enough to tide your guests over between drinks one, two & dinner without any hiccups. Every generation likes them, and you can make a really generous batch for next to nothing, meaning more left to spend on fizz. You just need to remember to start them long before you’ve even laid out your outfit on your bed; ie, around an hour before kick-off; or 30 minutes if you like to live dangerously (I don’t).
But wonderful though the classic is, next time you’re hosting, could I humbly suggest that you try this vibrantly pink, beet-pickled version instead? They only take a few more steps to make than ordinary devilled eggs, and come party time you’ll be so glad you went to the extra effort. Because like all the best guests, these beauties can always be relied upon to bring a generous serving of fun to proceedings. Eye-catchingly attractive, faintly dramatic & just a little bit acidic, they’re sure to cut a dash in any room.
PICKLED PINK DEVILLED EGGS
Going on the ratio of two halves (ie, 1 egg) per person, this recipe will serve 4. Double, triple or quadruple the quantities if you’re having a bigger party… but call in some helpers to keep you company in the kitchen once you get to a dozen.
Step 1: Pickling Pink
I’ve given the recipe in two parts here, as the pickled pink eggs are worth having a recipe for by themselves – they look really charming & they’re great for gussying up salads & lunch spreads.
4 medium-sized free range eggs (counter-intuitively, less fresh is best as the shells will come away easier)
1 large raw beetroot
350ml white wine vinegar
1 clove of garlic
Pinch of salt
3 fresh or dried bay leaves
Teaspoon each of coriander seed, cloves, fennel seed & peppercorns
Start the eggs in cold water, bring to the boil at a medium heat. Once at boiling point, reduce the heat to a rolling simmer & cook for a total time of 11.5 minutes to hard boil the eggs. Drain, fill the saucepan with cold water and leave to cool. Meanwhile, peel the beetroot and slice into 1cm thick rounds. Place in a saucepan with the remaining ingredients and boil for five minutes. Carefully peel the eggs and place in a large bowl or jar. Pour over the beetroot juice & slices and leave the eggs to macerate for around half an hour, moving them around every so often, then carefully remove the eggs and slice in half for devilling or just serving as they are. Bonus: pickled beetroot for later.
Step 2: Devilling
2 tablespoons (approx.) of good quality mayonnaise
Half a clove of garlic
Squeeze of lemon juice
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Dash of Tabasco
Half a teaspoon of English mustard
Salt & pepper
Slice the eggs in half lengthways with a sharp knife. Carefully scoop out the yolks and place in a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the mayonnaise along with a squeeze of lemon juice. See how the texture is before adding the rest of the mayonnaise cautiously – you want it to have an almost mousse-like texture, but this will depend on much yolk the eggs had. Add the remaining ingredients and taste for seasoning. Does it need a little more lemon juice, Tabasco or salt? Adjust as necessary, then use your smallest teaspoon to deposit a teapsoonful of the yolk mix in each of the egg half hollows. If you’re preparing ahead, cover them with cling film & refrigerate at this point. Allow the eggs to come up to room temperature before serving, and finish with a garnish of parsley (curly finally has its day in the sun here) & a sprinkling of smoked paprika.