Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cooking Floyd: The Incredible Edible (Duck) Egg

I think I'm in love.

I've never tried duck eggs before.  I'd heard all the negative comments.  "Oh, they're too gamy tasting."  "They're strong."  "They taste fishy."  So as much as I love eggs, I'd avoided duck eggs.

However, recently I came across duck eggs at the Harvest Moon when I stopped in for some bulk spices and having a few extra bucks in my pocket figured, why not?  I was planning on making this Roasted Garlic and Smoky Greens recipe for dinner and it called for a poached egg to top the soup before serving.  The eggs came from Wolf Field Hollow's (couldn't find a link) free-range ducks over in Meadows of Dan.

White Bean Chicken Chili with poached duck egg

I'm not the world's best egg poacher.  I've watched both Jacques and Julia swirl their simmering pots of water, plop in the egg, and a few moments later pull out this gorgeous little compact package of eggy goodness.  Not me.  I bring my little pot of water to a simmer with a few drops of vinegar, get a whirlpool going, drop in my egg, and end up with something that looks like weak egg drop soup gone horribly wrong,  If I'm lucky, somewhere in there is a little bare-naked ball of yolk that's overcooked and hard by the time I find it and pull it out.  Thus, when I want poachies I've been reduced to using a poaching pan with the little cups that sit over steaming water and crank out uniform industrial steamed eggs.  Ok, serves the purpose, but not really a poached egg at all.

So it was with some trepidation that I embarked on poaching the duck eggs.  First time out, no skid marks, nothin'.  I brought the water to a simmer, cracked the egg (seriously thick shells, sign of a good diet), swirled up the whirlpool, and gently plopped the egg into the eye of it.  AHHH!  Look at that!  The white held together!  It's turning over onto the yolk!  Michael!  Michael!  Come look!  Somehow, he just wasn't as excited as I was.  Go figure.  I dipped my slotted spoon underneath the egg, gently raised it, and softly poked the yolk with a finger.  It felt perfect.  Worthy of Jacques and Julia.  I felt like Julie Powell in the scene where she accomplishes her first poached egg.  I slipped it into a bowl of ice water and repeated the procedure thinking it was a fluke.  Success again!  I was convinced.  Duck eggs are superior to chicken eggs when poaching.  They hold together.  They make me look good.  But did I get the consistency right?

The perfect poached egg, when cut into, should not sit there huddled in it's white refusing to come out.  That's overdone.  Nor should it, having attained it's freedom, run for the edge of your plate.  A perfectly poached egg should slowly ooze from it's package, only just gilding it's immediate surroundings, waiting for you to direct it's course.  And that's just what these eggs did.  I was giddy!

But more importantly, how do they taste?  I'm happy to report they are not gamy, strong, or fishy.  They are... quintessentially eggy.  Flavorful.  And (godforgivemeI'msonotintoRachelRay) downright yummy.  Even in a more solo situation of over medium with buttered toast, heavenly.  And if you, like myself, love dippy egg yolk and egg white not so much, you will love duck eggs.  Lots of unctuous yolk to coat your toast with, less white to choke down (or leave behind).

The final test was deviled eggs.  Would they taste different in a cold application?  Would those gamy, strong, fishy flavors come through there?  No, I'm happy to say, they did not.  They made a deviled egg lover's ultimate deviled egg.  Jumbo size.

Next on my list is to try some baking with them.  I've heard that the innate richness of duck eggs really enhances pastries, cakes, and cookies.  And then there's ice cream, puddings, and fruit curds to explore.  I know, I know, it's a huge sacrifice and you probably think I've done my share of risk-taking, but no.  It's alright.  Really.  I'm willing to take one for the team.

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