These ravishing beauties are worth the effort. While deviled eggs have long been a staple of the season, these bright snacks are something special, with an added piquancy from the vinegar, balanced by mild sweetness and salt from the brine. And the color! A deep, rich magenta, that does not impart any beet flavor to the eggs.
Play with the infusion times; even 2 hours will give a lovely pink color to the outside of the egg, but a bit more time will allow that luscious color to bleed slowly into the center of the egg, like a drop of watercolor paint that spreads gracefully across a page. An overnight infusion will give you color all the way to the yolk; a two-day soak will yield the sharpest pickle flavor.
12 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
For the pickled beet marinade:
2 pounds fresh beets
2 cups vinegar; red wine, white, champagne or apple cider all work well
2½ cups water
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
For the filling:
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
3 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
Pinch salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Hard boil the eggs. Tip: Jostle the eggs now and then as you are cooking them, so that the yolks do not settle to one side or another, but rest in the center of the egg. Choose eggs that are at least 3 days old for the easiest peeling. Peel the eggs under running water, and refrigerate until ready to use.
Peel the beets and slice them in ¼-inch slices, then quarter the slices. Red beets give the brightest color; yellow beets make a soft golden hue that is less intense. If you’re aiming for a brighter gold, add a 1-inch piece of fresh turmeric, grated, to a golden beet mixture.
In a medium saucepan, pour the water and vinegar over the beets. Add sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar, then simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes or until beets are tender.
Remove the beets from heat and allow to cool. Remove the pickled beets from the liquid; they will have lost some of their color, but can be used in salads.
When the beet liquid has cooled, place the eggs in a large container, and pour the beet liquid over them. Allow the beets to infuse in this liquid in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, and up to 2 days. A 2-hour infusion will stain the outsides but not the insides of the beet; 2 days will turn even the yolks pinkish. A happy medium is about 6 hours, where the centers and yolks are still their natural color.
Remove the eggs from the beet brine. Slice the eggs in half lengthwise, and gently pop the yolks out of the middle, into a small mixing bowl. Add the mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, salt and black pepper, and mash the mixture with a fork until it acquires a creamy consistency. Scoop the filling into the center of each egg, mounding it up.
Prepare toppings to garnish the top of each egg; this is where to get truly creative. We used capers, finely chopped snow peas, calendula and borage blossoms, chopped red pepper, chives, parsley, smoked paprika and dill; just one or two of these ingredients per egg is ideal. But there are so many other beautiful topping options. Consider cucumber, zucchini or pepper relish, smoked salmon, bacon bits or black olives, just to name a few.
Arrange the stuffed eggs on a platter with other seasonal finger foods, such as carrots, radishes and snap peas. Enjoy!
Reprinted with permission from Mountain Feed.