Brothers Matt and Ted Lee like to draw inspiration from Southern cookbooks. One day, they were looking in a community cookbook from 1964 when they saw a recipe for a deviled egg casserole.
Twenty-four deviled eggs, shrimp and gravy, thickened with cheese and cream — served over crunchy Chinese noodles.
"It's a disgusting dish," Matt says. "But within that dish, what's so exciting is that there's this great idea, which is combining shrimp — sweet, crunchy shrimp — with deviled eggs."
With that, the Lee brothers concocted a shrimp and deviled egg salad roll, combining fresh shrimp, chopped egg whites and a deviled-egg dressing.
It's one of the recipes from their new cookbook, Simple Fresh Southern. It's a collection of dishes that put a new spin on old favorites, like pork tenderloins with Madeira and fig gravy, and pimento-cheese potato gratin.
"The changes that we make, and the license that we take with Southern recipes, is always thinking about the spirit of the dish," Ted says.
There's another spirit the brothers like to follow. "I love making a mess in the kitchen," Ted says. "There's something sort of therapeutic about seeing your kitchen all blasted to hell during the making of a great meal, and then taking the time to put it back to rights."
Think of these rolls as the low-country cousin to lobster rolls, those uberdecadent — and expensive! — sandwiches of lobster morsels dressed with mayonnaise, lemon juice and diced celery that get served in roadside joints up and down the New England coast in the summer. The idea here is simple: It's a supertasty deviled egg salad with chopped shrimp folded in, loaded into a hot-dog bun, then garnished with bacon bits and scallions.
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons high-quality, store-bought mayonnaise, such as Hellmann's or Duke's
1 tablespoon pepper-vinegar hot sauce, such as Tabasco
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper
2 vine-ripened red tomatoes, cut into 8 slices total
4 leaves butter lettuce
4 top-loading hot-dog buns
2 scallions (white and green parts), finely sliced
Time: 30 minutes
Fill a large stockpot with about 2 quarts water and 2 teaspoons of the salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove the pot from the heat, add the shrimp, and cook (off the heat) for 1 to 2 minutes, until the shrimp are pink-orange and slightly firm. Using a slotted spoon or a skimmer, transfer the shrimp to a colander. Rinse them under cold water until they are cool enough to handle.
Return the shrimp water to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low so the water simmers calmly. Add the eggs gently, lowering them to the bottom, two at a time, with a large ladle. Let the eggs cook at a simmer for exactly 14 minutes.
While the eggs cook, peel and chop the shrimp and put them in a large bowl. Sauté the bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat until it is firm and just turning golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel to drain.
When the eggs are done, transfer them to a strainer and rinse under cold water until they're cool enough to handle, about 2 minutes. Peel the eggs and cut them in half lengthwise. Separate the whites from the yolks. Coarsely chop the egg whites, and add them to the bowl with the chopped shrimp. Press the yolks through a mesh strainer into a medium bowl. Add the mayonnaise, hot sauce, mustard and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt to the yolks and whisk until the mixture has the consistency of cake batter, about 1 minute.
Using a rubber spatula, fold the yolk mixture into the shrimp mixture until the shrimp and egg whites are evenly coated with the deviled-egg dressing. Season with salt and pepper, and toss again. (Covered, the shrimp and deviled-egg salad will keep in the refrigerator for 2 days.)
To serve, load 2 slices of tomato and 1 leaf of lettuce into each of the toploading buns, and spread 3/4 to 1 cup of the shrimp and deviled egg salad into each roll. Garnish each roll liberally with the reserved diced bacon and the scallions.