The Devil’s Playthings

Idle hands are the devil’s playthings and a bit of idle time led to to this take on Deviled Eggs. The History Channel tells me Deviled Eggs may be as ancient as 1st century Roman culture, where they marinated small song birds and stuffed them into eggs. In this case, my good friend Tom gave me the idea to throw a couple of hard-boiled eggs on while I was smoking a pork tenderloin. His previous experiment with smoking eggs lead me to peel them before smoking to allow more smoke to penetrate the eggs and as they were peeled, we smoked them at a very low heat. Here’s the visual history of an experiment:

Tom sends me this picture and a text: "In the middle of  making an 18 hour pastrami and decided to throw a couple hard boiled eggs on for three hours."
Tom: “In the middle of making an 18 hour pastrami and decided to throw a couple hard boiled eggs on for three hours.”

I’m inspired. “Nice! Smoked Gribiche?”

Gribiche is blended hard-boiled egg yolks with oil, then capers, herbs, and whites.
Gribiche is blended hard-boiled egg yolks with oil, then capers, herbs, and whites.
Traditional on fish, this works on vegetables or chicken , as shown here
Traditional on fish, this works on vegetables or chicken , as shown here

So, I throw on a few eggs to smoke the next week-end.

The peeled eggs allow for the smoke to penetrate more fully in less time.
The peeled eggs allow for the smoke to penetrate more fully in less time.

Now, I’ve had a chance to let ideas marinate.

Let’s go with Double Deviled Eggs.

Yolks mashed with roasted garlic, smoked paprika, mayo, and hot sauce. Pickled sweet peppers on top.
Yolks mashed with roasted garlic, smoked paprika, mayo, and hot sauce. Pickled sweet peppers on top.

As a one bite appetizer, the first flavor is the roasted garlic, mayonnaise and sweet pepper, then you become aware of the hot sauce, and the lingering flavor as you finish is the smoke. Fire, to heat, to smoke. A very satisfying little experiment. See what idle hands can do?

Oh, and as a post script, take a look at the 18 hour smoke ring on the pastrami Tom had working. Gorgeous.

Pastrami4

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Hoppel Poppel – Variations on a Theme

We have detailed our love for Hoppel Poppel, partly due to the association with the warming, filling versions served in Milwaukee at Benji’s or Jo’s Cafe, routinely named as two of the best places in the city for an old-fashioned diner-style breakfast. But the other reason to love Hoppel Poppel is the endless variations on the theme. This is basically cured or leftover meat, par-cooked potato and/or another starchy root vegetable, onions or related additions, topped with eggs in nearly any style, and cheese. Simply fry up the diced meat, starch, onion and spices, then top with eggs and cheese. The standard is scrambled eggs, added directly to the frying ingredients to create a sort of omelette/frittata, though a soft, sunny-side up egg is a wonderful alternative.

This becomes a lovely vehicle for leftover meats and we created breakfast today from our leftover shredded Porketta. In a well-seasoned cast iron pan over medium-high heat, 1 tablespoon of butter is melted, then diced porketta, diced par-cooked yellow potatoes, and diced red onions (to echo the ingredients used in the roast). Sprinkle with dried herbs (oregano, thyme, basil) and a pinch of sea salt. In a separate pan over medium heat, melt 1/2 tablespoon of butter and crack one egg and cook to runny, sunny-side up, layering on cheddar cheese about half way through cooking. We had a supply of Renard’s Cracked Black Pepper Cheddar, which added just that extra pop – hearty, rich flavors of pork with the tang of cheddar.

Hoppel poppel porketta1

We enjoyed another variation a few nights ago for dinner, featuring salmon over a vegetable hash. Instead on pan frying the hash, in this dish we roasted diced sweet potato, diced zucchini, and diced yellow potato with a drizzle of olive oil and liberal amounts of dried thyme and sea salt in a 375 degree oven for approximately an hour. The sweet potato will become soft and begin to caramelize on the edges. While the hash cooks, heat a oven safe frying pan on the stove top over medium high heat with about 1/4 inch of vegetable oil. When oil is shimmering hot, lay a salmon fillet into the pan, skin side down and sprinkle with salt and pepper. After approximately five minutes, the fillet will have a slight browning on the edges of the skin, add two shallots diced to the pan and place the pan into the oven and allow the fish to finish cooking. While the fish finishes, cook a runny, over-easy egg. Serve with the hash on the bottom, topped with salmon fillet and then the egg. Drizzle shallot butter over the egg.

Hoppel poppel salmon

The sweetness of the potatoes and zucchini were a perfect canvas for the salmon while the egg and shallots created a wonderful “sauce” with some of the same elements of a scratch-made mayonnaise, particularly with a squeeze of lemon. Lovely. Endless possibilities.