I made the long drive across the entire state of North Dakota to my home town yesterday. It was me, my four-year-old and my two-year-old…in a car…for 8 1/2 hours. I made the same drive last Summer, also without Radd (who’ll be joining us later this week), and was so proud of myself for having arrived with my little kids and sanity intact that you’d have thought I split the atom. Fortunately it went well again this year, though was about as fun as you’d expect.
Since I’m heading back to my roots this week, I thought I’d share a little treasure from my childhood–pickled eggs. It seems a bit odd to follow up French-style recipes for clafoutis and galettes with ‘pickles-in-a-jar’, but there’s something to be said for comfort food. I grew up with jars of these treats sitting on our counter. While pouring over childhood pictures recently, I noticed that there was an egg jar in the background in so many photos. My Mom made the best pickled eggs– we absolutely loved ’em.
In continuing with my food philosophy, I use high-quality eggs in all of my baking and cooking. I’m talking about eggs that come from a farm where the chickens roam freely and peck at nutritious food– not the cheap, supermarket eggs that sell for $1 a dozen, as these generally come from perpetually-caged chickens that have never seen daylight. Yes, organic/cage-free eggs are a bit more expensive, but compared to your other proteins (meat) they are affordable. Free-range cage-free eggs are not only a great source of protein, but they provide healthy Omega-3’s. They’re also relatively low in calories.
Through the years, my brother and I have made adjustments to our Mom’s pickled-egg recipe. We’ve been on a quest to improve upon ‘the best’ by making it a bit spicier. This is my latest version. Now if you don’t fancy spicy food– you can skip the chili peppers and the red pepper flakes. My family prefers to eat these eggs with a basket of pretzels, a few drops of Chalupa (or a Louisiana-style) sauce, and a nice cold beer. Perfect.
The Recipe: Pickled Eggs
Roughly 2 dozen eggs, hard boiled
1 liter white vinegar
1 jar hot chili peppers and the juice (Mezzetta is my favorite brand for these)
1 white onion, thickly sliced
1 bulb garlic, cloves peeled and left whole
1 teaspoon pickling spice
1 tablespoon peppercorns
To boil the eggs: Gently place the eggs in a 4 quart sauce pan. Cover with cold water. Let cook over medium heat until water begins to boil. Boil for 1 minute only. Cover and remove from heat immediately. Set a timer for 12 minutes. After that, pour out the hot water and run cold water over the eggs to stop the cooking process. Let cool completely before peeling. (Note: older eggs peel more easily than fresh ones)
Once your eggs are cool and peeled, start layering your ingredients into your jar. This doesn’t have to be precise. Once the eggs, onions, garlic, hot chili pepper and their juice, peppercorns, and pickling spice are in the jar — you can add the white vinegar. Make sure you have enough liquid to cover the eggs. These eggs will start to taste “pickled” in about 3 days, and will keep getting better and hotter the longer they sit. They can be stored, tightly sealed on your counter. Enjoy!