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THE AMERICAN TABLE: Recipe for deviled egg toasts with country ham bits

01/14/2015 10:29 EST | Updated 03/16/2015 05:59 EDT
For me, it's just not a party without deviled eggs. Doesn't matter if it's a summer barbecue or a winter Super Bowl shindig. I need deviled eggs. And I know I am not alone!

Which isn't to say it's always easy to make that happen. The last time I made them for whatever reason the eggs were a devil to peel. I tried all of my regular tricks. I let them sit in cold water. I peeled them under cold water. Didn't matter. Every one of the 24 eggs I tried to peel was a struggle.

I couldn't believe this was happening. I've made deviled eggs since I was a kid, so you'd think it would be easy. But my egg whites were pock-marked and homely. And I bet you've been there, too. Well, when life gives you ugly egg whites, you go to Plan B...

My solution was to create a new stress-free version of deviled eggs that would deliver the same great taste without the fight.

I started by making the yolk-based deviled egg filling. I put all of the classic ingredients — including a few of the cooked (ugly) whites to break up the richness — into the food processor. In minutes I had beautiful, silky smooth filling.

But rather than fuss with my unattractive whites, I instead piped the filling onto toasted slices of baguette. Done! A new and much simpler party recipe was born. In some ways I liked it better than the original!

You can pipe the filling onto any bread or cracker you like, but I prefer to make my own melba toasts. I just thinly slice a baguette, then toast the slices in a low-heat oven until dried and crisp. The crunchy toast is a welcome contrast to the classic soft and unctuous deviled egg filling.

And you don't need to be a piping bag pro to do this. If you don't have a pastry bag, use a plastic storage bag and cut off one of the corners, then squeeze the filling onto the toasts. Or just spoon the filling on the toasts. At the last minute, I sprinkle the toasts with bits of cooked country ham that were leftover from breakfast and that happy accident made the dish!

If you wanted to dress this appetizer up a bit, you could add a strip of prosciutto instead of the country ham, or even bits of crispy cooked bacon.

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DEVILED EGG TOASTS WITH COUNTRY HAM BITS

Want to get a jump on this? The toasts can be prepped up to a week ahead and stored in an airtight container. The egg mixture can be made up to 2 days ahead, then refrigerated. If refrigerated, let the egg mixture come to room temperature before piping.

Start to finish: 1 hour (20 minutes active)

Servings: 8

Half a baguette (8 to 9 ounces)

1 dozen large eggs

1/3 cup mayonnaise

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

Zest of 1/2 lemon

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Pinch garlic powder

Hot sauce, to taste

Kosher salt

1/2 cup chopped crisped country ham, proscuitto or thick-cut bacon, to garnish

Heat the oven to 250 F. Mist a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

To prepare the melba toasts, slice the baguette into thin rounds. Arrange the rounds in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet, then mist the tops with cooking spray. Bake for 25 to 30, or until dried and crisp.

Meanwhile, to prepare the deviled egg topping, place the eggs in a large saucepan. Add enough cool water to cover by 2 inches. Set the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. As soon as the water boils, cover the pan, turn off the heat and let sit for 12 minutes. After 12 minutes, drain the eggs and run under cold water until the eggs are cool to the touch. Let sit another 10 minutes.

Peel the eggs. You don't need to worry about keeping the egg whites intact. Cut each egg in half lengthwise and remove the yolks. Set 4 whites aside on a platter and reserve the rest for another use. Place all 12 yolks and the 4 reserved whites in a food processor. Pulse several times to chop.

Add the mayonnaise, butter, mustard, lemon zest and juice, garlic powder and hot sauce. Pulse until smooth. Taste, then season with salt. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag or quart-size plastic bag. Snip off one corner of the bag, then squeeze to pipe some of the egg mixture onto each of the melba toasts. Top with pieces of country ham, prosciutto or bacon.

Nutrition information per serving: 310 calories; 190 calories from fat (61 per cent of total calories); 21 g fat (8 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 320 mg cholesterol; 20 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 0 g sugar; 11 g protein; 490 mg sodium.

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Elizabeth Karmel is a barbecue and Southern foods expert. She is the chef and pitmaster at online retailer CarolinaCueToGo.com and author of three books, including "Taming the Flame."

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