Vermont Inn Secret Recipe: Pickled Deviled Eggs
Let me just start out by saying that pickled eggs are not something that I grew up with, and don’t worry, we don’t serve them for breakfast at our Woodstock VT bed & breakfast. David, on the other hand did, and he has always loved the purple vinegary beasts. The first time that I tried one I couldn’t imagine what there is to like about this – a rubbery, vinegary, hard-boiled egg. David looked almost relieved that he wouldn’t have to share with me.
Fast forward a few years. I still can’t figure out why he is so happy to eat these things, but I give it another try. The first bite intrigues me. Exactly as I remembered, vinegary, a little bit rubbery, but somehow I’m really into it. I’ve been hooked ever since. It used to be that David only got to have these at his Mom’s house (in Pennsylvania), where she would buy them from the Amish people at her local farmer’s market.
When we moved to our Vermont inn, we decided to make them ourselves, which is really quite simple. We roast fresh beets, then make a pickling syrup for the eggs, add the beets, some onions, peppercorns, a little bit of allspice, and the hard boiled eggs. The eggs need to absorb the flavors, which takes a day or so. If you leave them in the pickling mixture longer, they get more flavorful, and the vinegar does in fact start the make the eggs a bit tougher. I no longer mind the texture if they get a bit rubbery, which I find funny, because rubbery is generally not a good thing in the food world.
This week we decided to try pickling just the whites, and making deviled egg filling out of the yolks, just for something different. Well, we both agree that this is the best of both worlds, really quite nice. They made a wonderful accompaniment to our dinner – farmer’s market Boston lettuce, tossed with vinegar and olive oil, tomatoes and red onions, topped with lobster salad that we made with David’s homemade mayonnaise. Give them a try for your next picnic, and let me know what you think!
Pickled Deviled Eggs
4 or 5 medium beets
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. black peppercorns
big pinch allspice
1 small yellow onion, peeled and sliced thinly
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled, cut in half, whites separated from yolks
Wash beets, trim ends, place in an oven safe dish that will just fit them, rub with a little bit of olive oil, cover with foil and roast in a 450 degree oven until tender when pierced with a small knife, about 45 minutes. Let cool, peel, then cut into wedges.
Combine vinegar, water, peppercorns & allspice in a small non-reactive saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves, then set aside. Put egg whites, beets and onions in a glass, ceramic, or stainless bowl (something that won’t get discolored by the beet juice), and pour the pickling liquid over. Cover and refrigerate, turning occasionally, until the whites turn a deep rich pink color, about 24 hours.
Yolks from hard boiled eggs above – mash in a bowl with a fork until fine. Mix with about two teaspoons of Dijon mustard (or more or less, according to your taste), a pinch of salt, a grinding of fresh black pepper, and enough mayonnaise (we like to use homemade) to make a nice smooth mixture. You can pipe the mixture into the pickled whites with a pastry bag, but we find that a bit fussy (not to mention messy to clean the bag), so we just use a spoon.
Garnish as you please. In the photo, we used chives from our garden, a chive blossom in the center, and sage flowers from our garden.