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Deviled egg is a better egg

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The deviled egg is a confusing contraption. First the yolk is popped out. Then it's stuffed back in. Raising the question: Why?

The recipe seems bedeviled by circular reasoning, redundant engineering, chicken-and-egg futility. Best solved simply: It's delightful.

The ordinary hard-cooked egg is an admirable invention — impressive architecture, clever packaging, pleasing contrast of colors. It's good, in a sturdy, plain, all-I-could-find-for-lunch way. The deviled egg, fashioned from the same raw material, offers all that, plus charm, fluff and flavor. In other words, it's better than good.

A condition best explained by this: Butter.

Many a picnic hostess holds fast to the belief that the deviled yolk must be mashed with mayonnaise. Many an hors d'oeuvre professional insists on bacon drippings.

Butter is better. It offers sweet, fresh-clover creaminess that complements — even flatters — the yolk. Offset by a spoonful of mustard — the devilish kick in the deviled egg — it yields a stuffing stuffed with nothing but the good stuff. Which is, logically, irresistible.

Devilish eggs

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 16 minutes
Makes: 12 stuffed egg halves

6 large eggs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Fine salt
1 lemon
Capers or caviar, optional

Note: Boiling eggs is an inexact art, affected by the size of the egg, the temperature of the fridge, etc. You may want to boil a test egg first to make sure you approve of the results. The finished egg should be cooked through, with a tender white and a set — neither sticky nor chalky — yolk.

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