Halloween is coming up, and all over the internet I am seeing recipes for things like spooky cocktails and pumpkin-flavored breast milk lattes, etc. (Ew, gross, sorry.) Frankly, I am not on the pumpkin spice bandwagon. I also believe that the only way to make a cocktail sufficiently “spooky” would be to use dry ice, which is pretty hard to get one’s hands on, and probably not safe to drink? So instead, I have devised the perfect Halloween party hors d’ouvres: Deviled Quail Eggs.
I love deviled eggs, but I’ve always had an inkling that there was something a little bit undignified about them. For one thing, the casual and excessive use of mayonnaise makes me feel a little ashamed; as a child I enjoyed the taste of mayonnaise, straight, and was given to snacking on it right out of the jar until at some point I was informed by a peer that this was a disgusting and trashy behavior. Consequently I am very conscious of my mayo consumption habits. Also, as a finger food deviled eggs feel somewhat ungainly; chicken eggs in general are slightly too big to be properly bite-sized, and the mayo + egg yolk deviled egg filling is incredibly rich.
Recently, however, I had some quail eggs lying around (don’t ask) and was trying to figure out what to do with them. Quail eggs are dainty and miniature, with beautiful speckles; they would not be out of place in the picnic basket of some ethereal Shakespearean fairy. It occurred to me that deviled eggs can in fact be very dignified if they are tiny. Bring deviled chicken eggs to a party and you may have some upsetting flashbacks to your shameful childhood predilection for mayo; bring deviled quail eggs to a party and you will feel very sophisticated and innovative. Regardless of what type of eggs you devil, if you bring them to a party they will be devoured within moments. The fact of the matter is that people love deviled eggs irrespective of your emotional hangups. Added bonus: Because quail eggs are so teensy you can pop them into your mouth like M&Ms, which is always a fun food activity.
DEVILED QUAIL EGGS
11 quail eggs, hard boiled*
2.5 tsp mayonnaise
¾ tsp Dijon mustard
2 splashes Tabasco sauce
1 tsp chives, diced
Sea salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Smoked paprika, for garnish
*I used one quail egg to test the hard-boiling time. Then I ate it, because it was so cute that I couldn’t resist. If you are making a dozen quail eggs, just add a touch more of mayo and mustard, to taste.
Fill a saucepan up ¾ of the way with hot water and bring to a boil. Add several of your quail eggs with a spoon. You don’t want to crowd the eggs in the pan, so depending on how big your saucepan is you may want to boil your eggs in two rounds. Boil the eggs for 4 ½ minutes minutes and then transfer, with a slotted spoon, to a bowl of ice water. I would recommend being precise with the timing and using a stopwatch of some nature, because 30 seconds can make the difference between a runny yolk and a hardboiled yolk when you are operating with such small eggs.
Slice them in half, the long way, and pop the egg yolks into a separate bowl. Put the egg whites to the side. Stir together your yolks, mayo, mustard, chives, Tabasco sauce, salt, and pepper. Taste the filling and make any desired adjustments. Scoop a heaping (tiny) spoonful of your yolk mixture back into the egg whites and sprinkle with smoked paprika.
Pan-fried Deviled Quail Eggs, for if you’re feeling really wild
Same as above, but when you fill the egg whites with your egg mixture, level it off the yolks until they are flush with the egg whites. Add a very small amount — 1 tablespoon or less, depending on the size of your pan (with a small pan, you can use 1 teaspoon) — of olive oil to a small pan. Heat the oil until hot and then turn the heat to low. Place the eggs on the pan, yolk-side down, and let them fry for 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and place on a paper towel, which will soak up any extraneous olive oil from the egg white. Deviled eggs are already super rich, so you want to keep the olive oil flavoring to a minimum here. Serve warm.