by Margaret Anne Mitchell
Whoever heard of a family gathering, a picnic, or church potluck without stuffed eggs?
From my earliest memory of family dinners at my grandmother's table on a farm in Northeast Mississippi, stuffed eggs were a favorite. I do not have a copy of her recipe, and I don't recall it being anything particularly unusual. Probably nothing more than the yolk, mayonnaise, salt and pepper, a dash of dry mustard, and maybe pickle relish of some kind. Yard eggs were plentiful, but a sprinkling of paprika was not anything she would have had on hand. I don't really think the recipe was that important.
To me, the important part was that Mamma took the time to lovingly make the eggs along with many other favorites for special family dinners. She would let me, as a child, help stuff the yolk back into the egg white. It was always a challenge to get the yellow stuffing to come out even with the egg whites. Could it be my "taste-testing" had something to do with always having a leftover egg white? But how could you "salt and pepper to taste" without taking a few good licks?
Another thing I have noticed about stuffed eggs is how they are usually all eaten.
I don't care how many stuffed eggs show up at the potluck, every deviled egg dish is taken home clean. That should tell us something! Only on one occasion can I remember having any leftovers and that was once when I tried a new recipe for stuffed eggs containing anchovies. I should have known better, but being a fan of both stuffed eggs and anchovies, I thought I would give it a try. Even I, who eat anything and everything, did not care for this combination. So I may be the only person in history with the distinction of having leftover stuffed eggs. How embarrassing is that?
Speaking of deviled egg dishes, that brings up another issue. My family never had a deviled egg dish until maybe in the 60's when Tupperware came out with their version. Before that the eggs were served in a pie plate and, for church suppers, covered in wax paper for the car ride. Another job I had was holding the stuffed egg plate level to keep the eggs from sliding. Oh, how tempting to sneak one out, but the empty spot would have quickly been spotted.
My current favorite recipe came to me from my friend Beth Imes. She didn't really give me a recipe, but told me she adds capers to her stuffed eggs. I tried it, and, yes, it is tasty and easier than chopping a pickle. So here is my recipe with Beth's capers.
6 eggs, hard-boiledSlice eggs. Scoop out egg yolk. Mash yolks with a fork and add remaining ingredients. Stir mixture together completely and put back into the egg whites. Garnish with paprika or small sprigs of fresh parsley. Chill.
Margaret Anne Mitchell is a graduate of Millsaps College -- which is not where she learned to cook. She's the mother of two brilliant, good-looking children, and she stays busy with an extremely important job in the arts. She's the sister of an author and a former bookstore owner, making her an almost-writer.
Marg's essay and recipe above was one of the winning entries at Southern Foodways Alliance's October, '04, emphasis on the stuffed egg. The previous essay contest was on pimento cheese. Can banana pudding be far behind?
SFA is part of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at The University of Mississippi.
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