The kitchen is the heart of Henderson House and with so many recipes in the novel, it was hard to pick just one to share. But I thought Edna’s Award-Winning Deviled Eggs might be a book club winner, especially with people focusing on low carb dishes these days. Edna is Mrs. Henderson’s housekeeper and co-cook at Henderson House. As Mrs. H says they’ve been “dancing around this kitchen together for almost twenty years.” I loved choreographing their scenes working side-by-side as they chatted and charted the future. Mrs. H tells us that Edna’s deviled eggs have won more awards than she can remember, including the blue ribbon at the Washington County Fair last year. Her secret? Adding a little of her homemade relish. If you’ve never added sweet pickle relish to your deviled eggs, you’re in for a treat!
As a writer of historical fiction, I couldn’t resist doing a little research on the origins of this potluck favorite. Turns out, you can trace the deviled egg all the way back to ancient Rome. The term “deviled” is a culinary description that goes back to the 1700s and applies to any dish with spicy seasonings. Author Anne Byrn says she found the first mention of a recipe for deviled eggs in an Alabama newspaper in 1877. The easily transported dish gained popularity in the 1920s when automobiles led to a surge in outdoor excursions, church picnics, and family gatherings.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of making deviled eggs is the opportunity to experiment with a variety of ingredients and toppings. I’ve used wasabi mayo and black sesame seeds to make creepy and delicious deviled eggs for Halloween, added salsa and cilantro for a Mexican flair, and crumbled cooked bacon on top whenever possible.
Adapted from Anne Byrn’s recipe in SouthernKitchen.com, 2021.
Eggs can be prepared up to a day in advance: refrigerate the whites and the filling separately. Assemble the next day and serve.
6 large eggs (see note)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise (plus more if needed)
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish (plus some of the juice if desired)
1 teaspoon yellow mustard (the 1941 choice, you can use Dijon if you prefer)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and ground black pepper
Paprika, for sprinkling
Freshly snipped chives, for garnish
Place the eggs in a large saucepan and add enough cold water to cover them by a couple of inches. Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Once the water boils, remove pan from the heat, and cover. Let the eggs stand in the hot water for 15 minutes.
Drain the water and immediately fill it with cold water (you can add ice cubes to get the water even colder). Remove the eggs from the cold water one at a time. Gently tap each egg to crack it and then peel under cool running water. Once eggs are peeled, slice eggs in half lengthwise. Remove the yolks with a teaspoon and place the yolks in a small bowl. Set aside the whites.
Add the mayonnaise, relish, and mustard to the yolks, mashing with a fork. Season with salt, cayenne and black pepper to taste. Add more mayonnaise and/or relish juice if the yolk mixture is too dry.
Arrange eggs on a serving plate. Lightly sprinkle the top of each egg with paprika. Garnish with chives and serve.