Devil- a culinary term which... first appeared as a noun in the 18th century, and then in the early 19th century as a verb meaning to cook something with fiery hot spices or condiments...The term was presumably adopted because of the connection between the devil and the excessive heat in Hell...Boswell, Dr Johnson's biographer, frequently refers to partaking of a dish of "devilled bones" for supper, which suggests an earlier use...
Oxford Companion to Food
There's something extremely satisfying about "devilled" food. As you know, "to devil" a dish means to add some form of spice, often something like Worcester Sauce or a hot mustard. These days "devilling' is slightly old-fashioned; it has a hint of the 19th century about it, a whiff of a St James's Street club. I happen to love the tangy, slightly sweet, piquant taste of Lea & Perrins (first produced in the English town of Worcester in 1837), and, like the Victorians, will quite happily devil just about anything, including ham, eggs, kidneys and mutton chops.
Here's a recipe for "Gravy à la Diable" from Cassell's New Universal Cookery Book, Lizzie Heritage [Cassell and Company:London] 1894:
Required: half a pint of clear brown stock...half an ounce of arrowroot, a tablespoonful of claret, a teaspoonful of French mustard, a dessertspoonful of Worcester sauce, and a little soluble cayenne, with salt to taste, and a few drops of soy. Mix the thickening with the claret, and the rest of the ingredients, and boil for a few minutes. Serve with kidneys, steaks, & etc., or with grilled fish. For a hotter sauce, increase the Worcester sauce, or boil a few capsicum seeds in the gravy."
Arabella Boxer also has a recipe for Devil Sauce from her book of English Food (recently re-published by Penguin in a sumptious new edition), which I've adapted for The Greasy Spoon:
You melt 30g butter, and stir in 1½ tablespoons of flour, ½ teaspoon of English Mustard, and ½ teaspoon of Curry Powder. Cook this, stirring, for one minute. 275ml of milk is added, and 150 ml of double cream (both of which you've previously heated up together), and the sauce is stirred constantly on the heat until it starts to bubble. The sauce is then simmered gently for about eight minutes, until slightly reduced- and the remaining flavourings stirred in: ½ teaspoon of salt, a pinch of cayenne, ½ tablespoons of Worcestershire Sauce, ½ tablespoon of Mushroom Ketchup and, last but not least, a dash of our old friend, Tabasco.
This will make a basic sauce, which can then be poured over an ingredient of your choice: grilled or fried chicken, boiled eggs, and game. I think it would also work well with slices of fresh, juicy ham.