Vivian Howard, chef and owner of Chef & the Farmer in North Carolina and the recent recipient of a James Beard Award, says she spent most of her childhood running away from the food she grew up eating.
"It really took me coming back home to appreciate the food that she made," she says of her mother's cooking. "I've spent most of my adult life trying to relearn what it meant to grow up in her house."
Thankfully, she did. The chef and author of the forthcoming book Deep Run Roots: Stories & Recipes from My Corner of the South is a champion of Southern cooking. By tapping into "really vivid memories" and "asking a lot of questions," she has been able to reinterpret so many recipes that her mother and grandmother simply thought of "as too plain Jane to write down."
One of those recipes is for deviled eggs (see the recipe).
The classic Southern hors d'oeuvre of deviled eggs takes hard-boiled to the next level by whipping the yolks with mayonnaise and spices. Here, James Beard Award-winning chef Vivian Howard shares her version, inspired by her mother's, which uses softened butter and vinegar for a creamy, tangy filling. A dusting of paprika on top, and you have an easy and delicious appetizer for your Mother's Day brunch (or any party, for that matter).
Cooking the eggs correctly is the crucial step to this dish. For hard-boiled, we like to bring our water to a boil, gently drop in the eggs and boil for 11 minutes exactly. Having an ice bath ready will ensure you stop the cooking immediately for perfectly cooked, bright-yellow yolks.
To learn more, read "Word to Your Mother."
Recipe adapted from 'Deep Run Roots: Stories & Recipes from My Corner of the South,' by Vivian Howard (Little, Brown and Company)
Yield: 12 deviled eggs
3 Tbsp butter, softened
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 tsp white wine vinegar
½ tsp sugar
¼ tsp hot sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Sweet paprika, for garnish
- Fill a medium pot halfway with water and prepare an ice bath. Bring the water to a boil and then remove from the heat. Using a slotted spoon, gently place the eggs into the pot of water. Return to the heat and bring to a light boil. Cook for 11 minutes, then, using a slotted spoon, transfer the eggs to the prepared ice bath. Let cool completely, then peel and halve lengthwise.
- Carefully scoop the egg yolks into a small bowl and reserve the eggs whites. Over a medium bowl, push the egg yolks through a fine-mesh sieve. Stir in the remaining ingredients until smooth, then transfer to a piping bag fit with a star tip. Pipe about 1 tablespoon of filling into 12 of the egg white halves, reserving the remaining whites for snacking or another use. Lightly dust with paprika and serve.