Egg-citing? Egg-specially delicious? Egg-stra super special (and somewhat delayed) springtime egg-themed blog post? Oh, I just can't do it! No more egg puns from now on, I mean it.
This time of year, I find myself thinking a lot about eggs, and not just the chocolate coated, caramel centered kind, either. Maybe it's a deep primal urge that strikes at springtime, relating everything my metaphorical gaze falls upon to the cycle of new life and rebirth. Baby lambs, tender green buds, all things ovoid, that sort of thing. Or maybe it's just the ever-present shelves of those damned aforementioned chocolate eggs in the grocery stores. Regardless, it's been an EGGSTRAVAGANZA (ouch, sorry! that one just slipped out!) over here lately, and I want to share a few egg secrets with you. I had initially meant to time this egg-themed post to coincide with Easter Sunday last week, but real life and deadlines stepped in for awhile, and anyway readers......is there ever really a bad time to talk about eggs??
So, we at the Orange & Salt household discovered something a few weeks ago that I can only describe as culinary gold, which seems pretty fitting since they are, in fact, golden. At least on the inside. What we found is a desert plant nursery in South Phoenix that also houses a small farmer's market stand indoors, where they sell cartons of some of the most beautiful eggs I've ever tasted. After bringing home the first carton of chicken eggs (in a delicately hued rainbow of blues, greens and browns) and demolishing them in record time via some very serious breakfasts and quiches, we were ready to move on up to the deluxe dozen of duck and turkey eggs, if for no other reason than curiosity. Have you ever eaten a turkey egg before? Neither had we.
The duck eggs were not much larger than the chicken eggs we'd eaten previously (although they themselves were fairly large, so that's not saying much), just slightly more elongated. The turkey eggs, however, were jumbo-sized footballs by comparison! A little intimidating to say the least, but it's also hard to resist anything so adorably freckled, so we dove right into those first. I had to try my first turkey egg solo, simply hardboiled with just the lightest sprinkling of sea salt crystals and fresh black pepper standing between me and (at least, what I hoped would be) fine, fine turkey egg goodness.
It's true, they're delicious. Really. There's a subtle difference between them and the more conventional chicken eggs I've eaten, a flavor that I really, really hesitate to call 'barnyard-y' because that sounds so unpleasant, but I can't quite put my finger on a better term for it, either. Maybe they're just richer? At any rate, far from being unpleasant, I actually think these taste better than their smaller brethren in that they seem to be missing that faint whiff of sulfur that hardboiled chicken eggs always seem to come with (the downside of eating eggs, which most egg lovers just usually pretend doesn't exist), which in my mind is a huge improvement. And speaking of huge--these eggs are! The yolk also seems a little bigger than you'd expect, proportionally speaking, which is a nice surprise. And of course any variety of farm fresh egg is going to have richer, deeper golden (almost reddish orange!) yolks compared to the pale, flabby specimens sold at the supermarket. Real, pastured farm eggs contain at least twice (often several times more) the beta carotene, Omega-3s and vitamins A, D and E of conventionally 'farmed' eggs. One turkey egg (six minutes for lightly hardboiled) is a filling breakfast indeed.
Once you get tired of eating straight-up boiled eggs (and I wouldn't blame you if it took awhile), you could move on to any number of things. The perfect plate of scrambled eggs, in my world, includes a handful of grated cheese and a sprinkling of fresh green parsley at the end. It's another simple way to enjoy the taste & most of all the shocking yellow color of these eggs. This is also the moment when I discovered that, in addition to being merely deeper in color than most egg yolks, turkey yolks are incredibly dense. When I first plunged in my fork to scramble these bad boys, it reacted almost like a ball of yellow caramel: dense, thick, sticky. It actually clung to my fork whenever I lifted it from the bowl! Amazing things, these turkey eggs.
A carton of eggs lying around in my fridge is always, always an invitation to make a quiche, so that's just what we did. This particular quiche actually combines 2 chicken eggs, 1 duck egg and 1 turkey egg with cheese, sauteed baby spinach, garlic and lightly caramelized onions.
Finally, when you're down to your very last egg, you can treat yourself to the meal we had for our own Easter dinner, a tasty lamb meatball concoction with a fresh, cool yogurt dressing.....see recipe below (it's also easy to double or triple these amounts if you're feeding more than two people). Now get yourself to the farmer's market and pick up some fresh eggs!
For the meatballs:
1 lb. ground lamb
1 whole egg, lightly beaten
3/4 C. bread crumbs
1 tsp. ground cumin
pinch of cinnamon
salt & pepper
For the yogurt sauce:
1 C. plain yogurt (thick, Greek-style yogurt would be excellent here)
3 T. finely chopped fresh mint (we might have used more than this, since I have an explosion of mint in my backyard garden at the moment and always feel the need to use it......just do what looks and tastes right to you)
1 tsp. honey
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all meatball ingredients in a bowl, mix very lightly by hand until the mixture is just combined. Beware over-mixing! It's a texture thing. I'm always tempted to pull out a wooden spoon or even the food processor at this point, but the result will be heavy, overly dense and homogenized little meatbombs, not juicy and tender lamb eggs, so beware. Trust me, your best utensils are often the ten digits at the ends of your hands, so wash up, take off your rings and get in there, okay?