There’s not much that can get me squeezing a fancy-nozzled piping bag, but this recipe compelled me to. Although devilled eggs are a bit fiddly to make, they’re not difficult, and they are always a major hit. As many as I make, I never have a single one left over. It’s best to use eggs that are approaching their use-by date, as the fresher they are, the harder they are to peel. In order to help keep the yolk centred as the eggs cook, leave them lying on their sides in a dish (rather than sitting upright in their boxes) overnight before cooking them. It’s not a fail-safe guarantee, but it does seem to make a difference.
12 large eggs, at room temperature
4 tbsp mayonnaise
1-2 tsp English mustard
1 tsp (or more to taste) sea salt flakes
1⁄4 tsp paprika, plus more for sprinkling
A few drops Tabasco, to taste
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1-3 tbsp water from a freshly boiled kettle
2 tsp finely chopped chives
- Bring some water to the boil in a saucepan that’s big enough to hold the 12 eggs on their sides and, once it’s boiling, gently ferry the eggs, one by one, into the pan and bring back to the boil. Boil for 1 minute, then turn the heat off and leave the eggs to stand in the pan for 12 minutes.
- While you’re waiting for the eggs to cook, fill a large bowl with very cold water, and throw in a handful of ice cubes if you have them. As soon as the eggs have had their 12 minutes, spoon them, egg by egg, into the cold water and leave for 15 minutes – no longer – before peeling patiently and carefully.
- Halve the eggs lengthways and, using your fingers, gently prise the yolk out of each half and pop them into a mixing bowl. Place the neatest looking 18 halved whites on a plate or two. You need more yolk than white, as it were, to fill each egg.
- To the bowl, add the mayonnaise, a teaspoon of English mustard, the salt and paprika, and shake a few drops of Tabasco on top. Stir and mash with a fork, then blitz to mix with a stick blender. Add the oil and blitz again until smooth. It will be very thick. Check for seasoning and also taste to see if you want this hotter. I generally go up to 2 teaspoons of mustard and quite a bit more Tabasco, but it’s best to proceed slowly. Now, by hand, stir in as much of the water as you need to help form a piping consistency.
- Fit a piping bag with a star icing nozzle and spoon in the golden mixture, making sure it is densely packed at the bottom of the bag. Then pipe away, filling the hollowed-out whites with golden rosettes. Or you can mound the yolk mixture using a pair of teaspoons. Sprinkle with paprika and chopped chives and serve with a flourish.
Food styling: Emily Kidd. Prop styling: Luis Peral. Photo assistant & retouching: Sophie Bronze. Food styling assistant: Susanna Unsworth. Recipes taken from Nigella Express, At My Table, Feast, Simply Nigella, Nigella Christmas, Cook Eat Repeat. For more, visit nigella.com.