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Have you ever wondered where the term “deviled” (as in deviled eggs) came from? The term actually dates back to the 18th century, apparently linked to Hell’s temperature. Today, it can apply to anything that will benefit from serious seasoning.
A deviled recipe, such as deviled beef, herring, oysters or even tongue, means that it’s coated in a mustard and crumb mixture and then baked. This spicy, crunchy coating also works wonders to jazz up fish, meat, crab or even oysters. The combination of mustard and crumbs keeps the meat or fish juicy while adding irresistible crunch.
Most of us associate deviling with the summer months and picnics, when boiled eggs are taken apart and put back together again with a mustard mixture, but they are just as appealing any time of the year. It’s a great way to use up some of those fancy jars of mustard that we all have accumulated during the holidays.
The Beard way
In the ’60s and ’70s, renowned cooking authority James Beard wrote many recipes for deviled ham, eggs, chicken, crab, scallops and mushrooms. Beard apparently had a love of mushrooms, saying, “they should always be served for breakfast with bacon, toast and a broiled tomato, but they are even better at dinner ladled over some creamy grits.” My feelings, exactly.
Key ingredients for deviling
Mustard is the essential ingredient. Dijon mustard seems to work best because it contains little besides mustard seeds and vinegar; more pure flavor and no bitterness. If you want to increase the heat index, choose coarse-grain mustard or dry mustard powder.
Worcestershire sauce is another staple of deviled foods, probably because of its secret ingredient (fermented anchovies). Other sauces available are Tabasco, chipotle or any hot, red pepper sauce. Some people even like to add a dash of horseradish sauce, either alongside or instead of the other sauces.
Finally, most deviled recipes always call for breadcrumbs. For maximum crunchiness, drizzle them with butter before baking, just without making them soggy.
Deviled Eggs with Avocado
This easy to make party hors d’oeuvre is enhanced by the addition of avocados to the usual suspects…mayo, mustard and egg yolks.
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4 tsps. prepared mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
1 small onion, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 large avocado
Cayenne pepper or paprika, as needed
Hard-boil the eggs and then let cool. Remove shells, slice in half and remove yolks; set aside whites to be filled. Puree onions and celery in a food processor or blender. Add yolks, mayo, mustard, salt, pepper and avocado; blend well. Place a scoop of the mixture in each of the 24 egg white halves. Sprinkle with a generous amount of cayenne or paprika. Makes 24 appetizers.
Deviled Shrimp with Salsa
This is a great appetizer. You can grill the shrimp up to four hours ahead; cover and chill.
1-1/2 lbs. shrimp (31- 40 count), shelled, deveined, rinsed and drained
1 cup chipotle salsa
Thread shrimp equally skewers (if using wooden ones, soak in water at least 30 minutes first). Reserve 1/2 cup salsa for serving; coat shrimp with remaining salsa. Grill shrimp over high heat. Cook, turning once, until shrimp are pink, about 4- 6 minutes total. Do not overcook. Serve with reserved salsa and lime wedges.
Deviled Shrimp with Olives and Green Onions
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1 Tbsp. finely chopped green onion
1-1/2 cups milk
1-1/2 cups shelled and cooked shrimp (31-40 count)
1/4 cup sliced pimiento-stuffed olives
2 Tbsps. dry white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsps. breadcrumbs, tossed with 2 tsps. melted butter
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add flour, stirring until smooth and well blended. Stir in paprika, pepper, dry mustard and green onion; gradually stir in milk. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until thickened.
Add shrimp, olives, white wine and a little salt to taste. Transfer to a lightly buttered shallow one-quart baking dish; top with buttered crumbs. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until breadcrumbs are browned. Makes 4 servings.
Devils on Horseback
A spicy version of Angels on Horseback, which are oysters wrapped in bacon and broiled. When oysters cook, their edges curl, supposedly resembling angels’ wings, hence the name.
2 oz. dry white wine
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
Tabasco sauce to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
6 slices of bacon
12 buttered toast points (optional)
Preheat the broiler. Shuck the oysters, reserving juice and half the shells. Mix juice with wine, garlic, Tabasco, salt and pepper; marinate oysters for 10 minutes. Cut bacon strips in half; wrap each oyster with half a bacon slice and secure with a toothpick. Broil on a baking sheet or in their shells, turning once, until the bacon is crisp and the edges of the oysters have curled. Serve on buttered toast points or in their shells.
2 Tbsps. chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsps. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsps. lime juice
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce
1/4 tsp. cayenne
2 green onions, finely chopped
6 piquillo or roasted red peppers, seeded and diced
1 lb. cooked crabmeat
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
5 Tbsps. melted butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine mayo, cilantro, mustard, lime juice, Worcestershire, Tabasco and cayenne; mix well. Stir in onions and red peppers. Add crabmeat and toss to mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Salt and pepper to taste. Divide crab mixture among four small gratin dishes. Sprinkle evenly with the breadcrumbs. Drizzle evenly with the melted butter. Bake 20 minutes, or until topping is crisp and lightly browned and the crab mixture is almost bubbly. Makes 4 servings.
Norm Harding is a cooking columnist for the Beacon. To send him recipes, email him at email@example.com.