What the Devil?

Deviled eggs are a beloved Southern party staple, but boiling, peeling and stuffing can sometimes give you fits. This Alabama matriarch perfected the art — and then passed it down.

Deviled Eggs // Photos by Elizabeth Gelineau

Wes Godbold pulls out a small black appointment book that says 1962 in gold foil on the cover. Beneath that, blue plastic sticker tape is embossed with the name “Godbold,” a throwback to the 1980s way of marking your property in style. Instead of meetings and engagements, the planner holds old family recipes that are now in their third generation of use. Pecan pie, caramel cake, fudge, and newspaper clippings from the Mobile Register and the Wilcox Progressive Era in Camden intermingle. Wes’s grandmother, Mary Godbold, started this recipe collection decades ago, and the family has cherished it for years, but no more fervently than since her death in 2011 at the age of 94. 

“It always smelled good in her house,” Wes remembers. “I grew up outside of Camden in Possum Bend, and when summer came and we got out of school, we were at her house. There were always kids running in and out.” 

Cooking for family and taking care of loved ones was a big part of who Ms. Godbold was. “She was a social worker who loved everybody and took care of everybody,” he continues. “And she loved her day lily garden.” 

Outside the garden, chickens would run and peck, leaving eggs behind for Mary to boil and devil to perfection. Wes and his wife Haley still follow her recipe today, but not exactly to the T. “I swapped from her homemade sweet pickle relish to Wickle’s for my version,” says Wes, while Haley adds a little backstory. “The Godbolds were famous for their homemade pickle relish,” she explains. “Everything came out of the garden, and the whole family would sit around together and make it. When we got married at the Grand Hotel more than 10 years ago, we gave it as our wedding favors.” 

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But the added kick of brine and extra cayenne that Wes prefers was a popular update in more than one household. “It’s not just Godbolds who want the deviled eggs at every family gathering,” Haley says. “The demand really comes in with my family. They love Wes, but they just want to know if he’s bringing the deviled eggs.” Never fear. Every Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and Fourth of July, Wes will pull through with his grandmother’s slightly updated recipe, now penciled in a blank page of that same appointment book that holds so many delicious memories.

Above left Mrs. Mary Godbold’s cut-glass deviled egg platter. Above right Mrs. Godbold in her garden.

Mrs. Mary Godbold’s Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs

If you ask six different cooks how to make the perfect hard-boiled eggs, you’ll get six different answers. Here is how
Mrs. Godbold did it.

Use farm-fresh eggs from backyard chickens if you have them, but store them in the fridge for one week before boiling, with the cone side down to center the yolks. 

Cook the eggs on a rolling boil for 7 minutes and then remove from heat and let sit for 20 minutes.

Rinse the eggs with cold water. Never peel an egg before cooled.

Slice eggs in half, scoop out the yolks and put your whites directly on your deviled egg serving platter. 


1. Use old eggs. Fresh eggs are harder to peel. 

2. Cooking cold eggs straight out of the fridge is fine. There is no need to bring the eggs to room temperature (or the benefits don’t outweigh the time it takes, let’s say).

3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Make sure there is enough water in the pot to cover the eggs by 1-2 inches. Skip the baking soda or vinegar — it’s an old wives’ tale.

4. Use a slotted spoon or wire strainer to add eggs straight into boiling water. This method, rather than bringing the water and eggs to a boil together, makes them easier to peel and helps make timing your eggs more accurate. 

5. Don’t crowd the eggs. Depending on the size of your pot, you may need to cook in two batches. Make sure the eggs are in a single layer and have some space between them.

6. Once you’ve added your eggs, reduce the boil to a gentle simmer.

7. Once the last egg is in the pot, set a timer for 10 minutes.

8. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with ice and water. When the timer goes off, turn off the heat and transfer the cooked eggs with the slotted spoon or strainer to the bowl of ice water. Let eggs bathe until completely cool.

9. Transfer cooked eggs to a clean container or bowl and put in refrigerator overnight or longer. Eggs that have rested are also easier to peel.

10. Peel the eggs under gentle running water. The water gets under the shell and helps it slide off. 

11. Start by gently cracking the egg at the rounder end, where there should be an air pocket. Work your way around from there.

12. Any unpeeled hard-boiled eggs can keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

For a little added polish, we recommend piping the yolks back in the whites. If you don’t have a piping bag and tips, a plastic bag will do the trick.

1. Fold down the top edge of a 1-quart zip-top plastic bag and set inside a cup to balance. Spoon the yolk mixture into the bottom of the bag, trying to keep the folded-down edge clean. Roll the edge back up, remove excess air from the bag and seal. 

2. Using scissors, cut off one corner of the bag, making a 1/2-inch opening. 

3. Gently squeeze the bag from top to bottom until the mixture “pipes” out into each egg white, twisting the top of the bag down as needed until all egg whites are filled. Garnish as you like.

Mary Godbold’s Deviled Egg

Ms. Mary Godbold’s Deviled Eggs 

Makes 24

12 hard-boiled, peeled eggs
1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup yellow mustard
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Cayenne pepper, to taste 
1 jar original Wickle’s Pickles

1. Cut the eggs in half and remove the yolks, placing them in a medium bowl. Add mustard and mayonnaise and blend until very smooth. Taste to make sure the mustard is not overpowering and add more mayonnaise if needed. The mixture should be a thick paste.

2. Add Worcestershire and cayenne to taste. Add a shot of Wickle’s Pickle’s brine to thin it out just a bit. Cover bowl and let sit in fridge for at least 1 hour before assembling.

3. Carefully spoon yolk mixture into egg whites. Dice several Wickle’s Pickles and use to garnish eggs. Dust with additional cayenne pepper. Serve chilled.

Blue Crab Deviled Egg

Blue Crab Deviled Eggs

Makes 24

12 hard-boiled, peeled eggs
1 tablespoon grainy Dijon mustard
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon horseradish
1 cup blue crab meat
Old Bay seasoning, for garnish
Chopped chives, for garnish

1. Cut the eggs in half and remove the yolks, placing them in a medium bowl. Add mustard, mayonnaise and horseradish, and blend until very smooth. Fold in the fresh crab meat.

2. Place Old Bay seasoning on a small plate, and fill a small bowl with about 1/2 cup water. Dip one end of each egg white in water and then dip in Old Bay seasoning. Carefully spoon the yolk mixture into egg whites and garnish with chives. Serve chilled.

Deconstructed Devils 

Deconstructed Devils 

Makes 24

12 hard-boiled, peeled eggs
1/2 cup mayonnaise 
Kosher salt and fresh-cracked pepper, to taste
24 mini cornichon

1. Cut the eggs in half but do not remove the yolks. Place one teaspoon of mayo on top of each half and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with a whole cornichon. Serve chilled. 

Ramen Deviled Egg

Ramen Deviled Eggs

Makes 24

12 hard-boiled, peeled eggs
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons cane sugar
3/4 cup mayonnaise 
2 heaping teaspoons Chinese hot mustard 
1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar
Sriracha sauce, for garnish
Sesame seeds, for garnish
2 green onions, thinly sliced, for garnish

1. Combine soy sauce, vinegar and sugar in a medium bowl. Add eggs, and let marinate in refrigerator 2-4 hours.

2. Remove eggs from marinade, cut in half and remove the yolks, placing them in a medium bowl. Add mayonnaise, mustard and vinegar, and blend until very smooth. Spoon or pipe mixture back into egg whites and garnish with a squeeze of sriracha, sesame seeds and green onions. Serve chilled.

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