Chew on this

Friday, September 28, 2012

Pickled eggs, nature's perfect food

Consider the pickled egg. An innocent object so round and smooth, so fragrant, a single cell grown large enough to eat -- and a throwback to the days when the only way to preserve some things was to pickle them. Over time it has evolved into an hors d'oeuvre, particularly a form of bar food when the bar you frequent has any sort of food. (There was a time when food was used to bring in people to buy drinks, a habit long gone except in rare places like New Orleans, where red beans and rice can be had for the price of a drink every Thursday night at Vaughan's down in the Bywater, and elsewhere).

My father has made me who I am in most ways, and who I am includes a taste for oddities, the things on the menu I don't recognize, and for what turns out to be homegrown Southern snack cuisine: pickled pig's feet (I will try anything once), pickled beets, smoked oysters out of the can, raw oysters on the half shell, souse meat, and yes, pickled eggs.

I have made my own many times. Although countless recipes exist, for your basic bar-style pickled eggs, try this:

2 dozen peeled hard boiled eggs

2 tbs sea salt

1 tbs dry mustard

1 tbs pickling spice

4-6 cloves fresh garlic

3 sweet Vidalia onions


3 cups white vinegar

1 cup cider vinegar

1 cup water

Slice onions and garlic. Add the white vinegar, cider vinegar, water, salt, mustard and pickling spice in the sauce pan and bring to a boil.

I always add Tobasco because I like the taste. Any hot sauce you like is suitable, but be careful how much you add. Add some and taste. Do that till you hit the right level of heat.

Put peeled hard boiled eggs, sliced onions and sliced garlic in gallon glass jar. Pour in sauce and put in fridge. Salmonella does not improve pickled eggs. (If sauce doesn't fill the jar, top off with white vinegar until it is about 1/4 inch from the top).

That's it. Experimentation is highly recommended here as in all cooking. The permutations are literally endless. All you really need is a big jug and some eggs and some vinegar and whatever else. Go nuts. DIY.

The longer you let them bask in the brine, the better they'll be. A week is okay; a month is much better. So it's basically a race between time and self control.

I once pickled half a dozen goose eggs to see how they would work. The only real difference between goose eggs and the normal kind are their size, but let me tell you this: when you're eating pickled eggs, an egg the size of a cat's head might not seem so wonderful halfway into it as you thought when you started. It's like eating a whole cheesecake by yourself, except it's pickled.

The proper condiments for pickled eggs include salt and pepper, Tobasco (again), and a packet of saltines. Cheese works too. Texture is very important in eating, and you want the different textures and flavors to play off one another: smooth vinegary egg, the kick of the hot sauce, the crunch of the cracker. It all goes together like the gears in a pocket watch, especially if you add beer to the equation. (Not to the pocket watch.)

The pickled egg is an acquired taste some will find horrific, sadly. De gustibus non disputandem est, as somebody said. But all the cool kids are eating them nowadays, so give them a whirl.

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  • disgusting.

    -- Posted by Atlas Shrugged on Fri, Sep 28, 2012, at 7:08 PM
  • Now, now, Atlas! Play nice. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all. ^_^

    -- Posted by jetman on Fri, Sep 28, 2012, at 7:54 PM

    1/2 cup vinegar

    1/2 cup water

    1/2 cup sugar

    1/2 tsp. allspice

    1/2 tsp. nutmeg

    1/2 tsp. cinnamon

    1 medium beet, cut into pieces, cooked in 1/2 c water.

    Boil all ingredients for 10 minutes (full boil). Pour over 12 hard boiled eggs and red beets.

    Place in jar with tight lid. Refrigerate. Lightly shake jar every few minutes to evenly coat all the eggs.

    -- Posted by rockpilefarmer on Sun, Sep 30, 2012, at 5:40 AM
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