what does ‘devilled’ mean in a foodie type context?
Deviled, or devilled (as the Brits would have it), refers to a preparation method where foods are highly seasoned. The spices and condiments used for deviling are usually black pepper, cayenne, hot pepper sauce, Worchestershire sauce, powdered or prepared mustard, horseradish, hot paprika or garlic. Deviled can also refer to a preparation called a la diable which usually indicates a way of cooking birds.*
The bird is slit open along the back and pounded flat, covered with butter and olive oil and bread crumbs and then broiled. It is then served with an a la diable sauce.
Generally, American cooks will be talking about deviled eggs, those ubiquitous ovoids of picnicky goodness that start appearing at Easter and seem to stay in season through Labor Day. But it can also refer to potted meat products, in particular deviled ham.
The most famous deviled ham product in the U.S. is made by Underwood. Their trademark red devil was registered by the U.S. patent office in 1867 and was the first food related trademark granted by the office for William Underwood & Co.’s “deviled entrements,” or more precisely the deviled ham that was introduced later.**
If you aren’t up on potted meat, and let’s be honest– there isn’t much call for it these days even among Atkins aficionados, it might be better to stick with the deviled eggs. They’ve been around a little longer than Underwood’s ham, though there is some evidence that stuffed eggs have been served since Roman times. The spicy version we call deviled eggs most likely started being served sometime in the 1700s.
Deviled Eggs (adapted from The Women’s Day Encyclopedia of Cookery edited by Eileen Tighe)
8 hard cooked eggs, sliced in half lengthwise and the yolks removed to a separate bowl
4 tsp prepared mustard (I especially like grainy mustard or dijon for this)
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
dash cayenne, or more to taste
1 tsp very finely minced fresh onion
1 tsp vinegar (preferably white wine vinegar and not the white cleaning and pickling kind)
Add all the seasonings to the bowl with the yolks and mash together. Add enough mayonnaise for a smooth, but not gloppy consistency. Arrange egg white halves on a serving platter. Spoon filling into a quart Ziplock-style baggy, close and then snip off a corner to make a McGyveresque piping bag and pipe filling into the hollows in the egg whites. Or, alternatively, if you are traveling with the eggs to a picnic or party, take the whites and the baggy (without snipping the corner) in a cooler or insulated carry bag and fill the eggs on site. This prevents that awful, stuck together mess created when traveling with already filled eggs. If you want to be very traditional, you can, of course, decorate the filled eggs with a few shakes of sweet paprika for color.
(As you can tell, I am not in the Pickle Relish School of deviled egg making. But if you are, you can probably leave out the onion and add relish there.)
*info gleaned from the aforementioned Women’s Day Encyclopedia of Cookery. It’s oldish (early 1970s) and out of print and mine was garnered at a yard sale for two dollars, but it is a treasure trove of information and James Beard and Marion Cunningham were both contributors.
**from The Chronology of Food by James Trager. This is also an excellent reference though a bit tedious to read straight through.