Once upon a time when I was a girl I dreamed of opening an egg-themed restaurant. It would be called “EggSquisite” and every item on the menu would feature eggs in some way. The doorway would be egg-shaped and, of course, my restaurant would be located in a mall ~ I did grow up in New Jersey, after all.
I never did hatch my restaurant plan, and that was pretty much it for my life as an entrepreneur. But I still love eggs, especially stuffed.
Stuffed eggs have a special appeal. There they sit on their platter, full and fat, ready to be plucked with thumb and forefinger and dispatched in one or two delicious bites.
Maybe it’s the eggs themselves. They are elemental; they hold power, whether the potential to become life or the ability to nourish it. Hard-cooked and halved, with their open faces and overstuffed centers, eggs imply generosity.
There are a thousand ways to stuff a hard-boiled egg, from classic deviled to fillings enriched with bacon, crab, or caviar. Guacamole and kimchi-stuffed eggs seem to be popular these days.
But my favorite are these giardiniera-stuffed eggs. The minced vegetable pickle adds just the right amount of crunch and vinegary punch to the creamy yolk filling without overwhelming it, and the colorful flecks make the eggs look pretty.
It is important to cook the eggs properly, so they peel easily and the yolk is just firm, without a trace of stickiness in the center (undercooked) or a grey-green rim (overcooked, unattractive). Also, it is worth the effort to force the cooked yolks through a sieve when you make the filling so that they will blend to a creamy consistency.
As for the giardiniera, you know what I’m going to say, right? That homemade would be best. And if not homemade, then a high-quality brand with a brine that isn’t too salty or harsh from cheap vinegar.
Use a small coffee spoon to neatly mound the filling onto your egg white halves, or a pastry bag fitted with a star tip or a plain wide tip (I used the latter). Stuff them generously.
I made these for Easter and garnished them with nonpareil capers and parsley leaves, but you could use confetti-size pieces of roasted peppers (I had run out), a sprinkle of chives, slivers of anchovy fillets, or even some larger pieces from your jar of giardiniera (wish I had thought of that when I made this batch).
Giardiniera-stuffed eggs are perfect for a garden party or summer picnic, a Mother’s Day brunch or a backyard barbecue. No doubt they’d make a great appetizer at an egg-themed restaurant.
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Minced giardiniera (vegetable pickle) gives an appealing crunch and vinegary kick to classic stuffed eggs. Be sure to follow the instructions for properly cooking and cooling the eggs. This will make peeling much easier. Serve these stuffed eggs slightly chilled, and be sure to set them on a bed of ice, especially if you are serving them outside on a warm day ~ they tend to go pretty quickly, though.
- 6 large eggs
- 1/2 cup finely chopped Classic Giardiniera
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (Duke's or Hellman's, not Miracle Whip)
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Nonpareil capers (drained), parsley leaves, and small pieces of pimento, roasted red peppers, giardiniera, or anchovy fillets, for garnish
Carefully place the eggs in a saucepan large enough to fit them comfortably. Fill the pan with water to cover by 1 to 2 inches. Set the pan over high heat and bring to a boil, keeping an eye on it. As soon as the water boils, remove the pan from the heat and cover with a lid. Set a timer for 12 minutes. When the timer dings, carefully drain the water into the sink (I use the lid to keep the eggs from spilling out). Fill the saucepan with cold water, letting the water run over the eggs to cool them. Drain the pan, and gently crack each egg two or three times against the sides of the pan, just enough to splinter the shells a bit. Fill the pan with more cold water. Feel the water after about 30 seconds; if it is warm to the touch, drain and refill with more cold water. Let the eggs sit for 15 minutes. Then carefully peel them; the peel should come off easily.
Cut each egg in half lengthwise with a sharp knife. Rinse or wipe the blade after each cut to clean it. Gently pop out the yolks and use the back of a teaspoon to force them through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Set the whites on a serving platter, or an egg plate if you have one. (Some recipes call for slicing of a thin sliver of the bottom of the egg whites to prevent them from rocking; I usually skip this step and arrange the eggs close enough to one another to keep them from jostling.)
Add the chopped giardiniera and mayonnaise to the bowl with the yolks and season with salt and a few grindings of pepper. Fold everything together until thoroughly combined and creamy.
Spoon or pipe the filling into the egg whites and garnish each one as you like. If not serving right away, cover the stuffed eggs with plastic wrap and refrigerate ~ I actually prefer them somewhat chilled. If you are refrigerating them, let them stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.