This week, my little French niece kept asking me to make mini-mozart eggs with her. And I kept thinking to myself: “Mini-mozart, I wonder if this is some old favorite of the Austrian composure.” Every time I heard the name, I’d ask, “Mini-mozart, am I saying that correctly?” “Oui, oui, mini-mozart” would come the reply. When I asked why that was the name, my little niece would look at me and say, “C’est comme ça. It’s just that way.” No neat story about Mozart coming to the French Court back in the time of Marie Antoinette to devour these scrumptious little delicacies. No, c’est juste comme ça qu’on les appelle. That’s just what we call them. Slightly disappointed that I hadn’t discovered some interesting tidbit of French/Austrian history, I went along with the preparation.
“Boil the eggs,” my little niece instructed me. “Then, we’ll make a mayonnaise – we’ll need Mamita’s (one of the ways little French kids call their grandma) big mixing machine.” She pointed at the 40-year-old Kenwood Cooking Chef sitting on the counter. We’ll take the egg yellows out and mix them with the mayonnaise.
My mind started to click a little faster. These were starting to sound a lot like deviled eggs. Since I’m originally from the South, deviled eggs are part of my traditional food repertoire. I could make those with my eyes closed.
Turns out, as it so often does, the French do it differently.
Besides making our own mayonnaise, which is an important part of French cuisine tradition, we added tuna and fresh dill. They were delicious. Even my father-in-law who is not a fan of hardboiled eggs in general, happily wolfed down one of musically-inspired eggs. You can substitute the tuna for salmon or sardines (the latter of which I’m not such a fan, but which my entire belle-famille enjoys tremendously in another recipe with sea-salt butter and baguette.) The real key to the French deviled egg recipe, and what really makes it stand out, is the homemade mayo.
Back home in Toronto, where my mother and sister live, we have several deviled egg platters made especially and uniquely for this dish. One even dates back to my great-grandmother in Alabama. A round platter with twelve semi-circles just the size of an egg all the way around the edge, this dish is perfect for presenting deviled eggs. I’ve promised to bring one back after Christmas for my belle-mère.
For French deviled-eggs or Oeufs Mimosa (Mini-Mozart with the accent),
- a dozen eggs hard-boiled
- a can of tuna or sardines (remove the bones) or salmon
- fresh dill
- salt & pepper
- homemade mayo
To make the mayo, you’ll need one raw egg yolk, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, one generous tablespoon of mustard. Beat the egg yolk and the mustard with a drop of oil in a mixer on high for a few seconds then gradually add the rest of the oil bit by bit as the machine continues to spin around. (It’s also possible to use a hand mixer if, like me, you don’t have a large all-purpose machine.) The mixture will solidify into a cream within a minute and you’ll add the oil to increase the volume. This recipe is sufficient for a dozen eggs (24 deviled eggs).
If you’ve never made any version of deviled-eggs before, here’s how. Hard boil your eggs. Remove the shells. Cut the eggs into two lengthwise. Remove hard-boiled yolks and put them into a mixing boil. Add mayo to mixing boil. For the French deviled eggs, add one drained can of tuna or substitute. Add salt and pepper to taste. Crush the yolks with a fork and mix mayo in well. After a few minutes, you’ll have a creamy filling. Use a teaspoon to fill the half egg whites with the yolk filling. Garnish with dill and paprika.
And bon appétit!
PS. If you’re serving as an entrée, you might want to accompany the dish with a dry white wine, something like a Chardonnay or a Riesling from Alsace.