Long ago, when my daughter was a preschooler, we managed to convince her that the Easter Bunny’s sole role was to hide the hard-boiled eggs we dyed. Unfortunately, “Easter candy” only remained an oxymoron for a few years. Like our fiction that the ice cream truck was really the “music truck,” just driving through the neighborhood playing cheerful tunes, the eggs-only Easter approach bit the dust once she was able to compare notes with her schoolmates.
Still, hard-boiled eggs remain a big part of many families’ Easter celebrations. Those perfect little blank canvasses for decorating, just waiting to be dyed or fingerprinted or covered with stickers, hide an edible treat that is a lot more versatile than jelly beans.
There are plenty of ways to use those leftover Easter eggs. Besides the classics like deviled eggs and egg salad sandwich filling, hard-cooked eggs can turn up in everything from breakfast burritos to bar snacks.
Not only are there a variety of ways to use up hard-cooked Easter eggs, there are multiple ways to cook them in the first place. When the occasion is calling for several dozen eggs, it may be easier to bake, not boil them. The technique involves putting a damp dish towel on the oven rack, putting eggs on the towel (as many as needed, as long as they are not touching) and then turning on the oven to 320 degrees F. After 30 minutes, turn off the oven and remove the eggs to a bowl of cold water, to make them easier to peel.
Other cooks swear by steaming the eggs in a vegetable steamer. It only takes 12 minutes in a hot steamer for perfectly hard-cooked eggs but the drawback is that the steamer only holds about half a dozen eggs, not enough for a decorating session.
The gold standard for hard boiling eggs is Julia Child’s method. She advocated putting eggs in a pot of cold water, and bringing it to a boil. As soon as the water boils, remove the pot from heat, cover it and let the eggs sit in the hot water for 17 minutes. Then, scoop the eggs out and place then in ice water for 2 minutes. The change in temperature causes the inner membrane to contact, making it easier to peel the shells off the eggs. For even easier peeling, bring the hot water back to a boil while the eggs are in their ice bath, and dip them back in hot water for 30 seconds. The heat expands the shells so that they slip off the eggs.
Even peeled eggs can be colorful. Pickled eggs will take on the color of their pickling juice, with beet juice producing a vivid magenta and turmeric-spiked vinegar dying the eggs a bright orange-yellow. The longer the eggs are pickled, the deeper the color will go into the egg white. The eggs are pickled after a day, but once pickled will keep in the refrigerator for a week or more.