Friday, February 24, 2012

RECIPE - Gratineed Deviled Eggs (Ovos Recheados Gratinados)

Deviled eggs are one of those foods that for many people evoke memories of earlier times in their lives, not always pleasant times - church-basement suppers, pseudo-sophisticated cocktail parties, ant-ridden picnics in the summer heat. Perhaps it's because of memories like those that deviled eggs have gotten a bit of a bum rap, and seem to have disappeared. But a truly well-made deviled egg, served at the right occasion and at the right temperature, is nothing to be scorned. It is marvelously, if unexpectedly, delicious and worthy of being returned to its proud place on the buffet table or hors d'oeuvres tray.

In Brazil, deviled eggs are known as ovos recheados. The term recheado simly means filled. (Which makes us wonder, why does the English language consider deviled eggs to be devilish?) Although they do pop up oat buffets, and are often seen as one of the offering of the pay-by-weight self-service restaurants that are found everywhere in Brazil, they often tend to be underseasoned and bland - just a mixture of mashed egg yolk and mayonnaise for the stuffing with perhaps a bit of chopped green onion to give it at least a breath of life.

This Brazilian recipe, however, is neither underseasoned nor bland, and it puts deviled eggs front and center - as the main dish for a lunch or light supper. Served piping hot straight from the broiler, three or four of these eggs makes a substantial offering without being over-filling. Employing the classic combination of ham and eggs, and sassing it up with best-quality grated Parmesan, this dish is a winner. And - here's a secret - it's embarrassingly easy and quick to make.
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RECIPE - Gratineed Deviled Eggs (Ovos Recheados Gratinados)
Serves 4

8 eggs, free-range if possible
4 oz (100 gr) good-quality, lean, deli-style ham, thinly sliced
4 oz (100 gr) fresh-grated Parmesan cheese
salt to taste
ground white pepper to taste
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Stack the ham slices, then cut them into matchstick-size julienne strips. Reserve.

Hard boil the eggs, according to your own favorite method. (if you don't have a favorite method, see below). Let them cool completely, then peel and cut them in half carefully, along the vertical (longer) axis.

Remove the yolks from the halved eggs, place in a medium mixing bowl. Using a fork, mash them, being careful not to overmash them. You want them to still have some texture. Add the julienned ham, then taste for seasoning and add salt only if necessary. Add white pepper to taste.

Fill the halved eggs with the yolk/ham mixture, mounding the mixture. Do not overpack the eggs.

Preheat your broiler. Put the eggs on a wire rack set in the bottom half of a broiler pan. Sprinkle the eggs with the grated cheese. Broil for about 3-4 minutes, or until the eggs are hot and the cheese topping is melted, bubbling and nicely browned. Serve immediately.

The Cook's Illustrated Test Kitchen's Foolproof Hard boiled eggs

(Note: Eggs are easier to peel when they are not fresh. Let farm-fresh eggs age for at least two weeks before hard boiling. Supermarket eggs have normally aged already and can be used as soon as you wish after purchase.)

Put the eggs in a large pot with cold water to cover by 1 to 2 inches. Put the pot on the stove, turn the heat to high and bring quickly to a boil. As soon as the water comes to a full boil, remove the pot from the stove, cover tightly and let stand for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath in a large mixing bowl, combining cold water at a lot of ice cubes, at least one full tray's worth. When the eggs have stood for 10 minutes, remove from the hot water with a slotted spoon and plunge them into the ice water. Let them stand at least 5 minutes in the ice water.

When fully cool, peel and use as needed in the recipe.

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