A die-hard eggovore, I never met one I didn’t love. Scrambled, hard boiled, over easy, poached, Rocky Mountain toast, frittatas, omelets and deviled. Of course, we’re talking about chicken eggs, right?
But the latest egg on the celebrity chef’s radar, and dubbed by Bon Appétit magazine as one of the 25 hottest trends this year is the duck egg. That’s no yolk. Here’s an egg primer so you can choose between the hen house and the duck farm. Quack, quack!
While hen’s eggs are nature’s almost perfect package, they represent the most common food allergy in children, snagging roughly 2.5 percent. This allergy to either the white, yolk or both is usually outgrown by age 5, but can be a nasty one.
A friend of mine has a son who is so allergic to albumin (the protein in egg whites), that he developed an asthmatic reaction when he merely stepped foot into the kitchen as she was whisking egg whites for a lemon meringue pie.
While duck eggs contain different proportions of amino acids, they tend to be a less offensive food allergen. Many people with hen egg allergies or sensitivities have been found to tolerate (and enjoy) duck eggs beautifully. (Standing advice: If you have a chicken egg allergy, check with your doctor before eating duck eggs).
The Mighty Ducks Eggs
Duck eggs trump their hen counterparts in nutritional value, in part as they are better endowed, particularly in terms of the yolk volume. The large, thick white surrounding the rich golden orb together contain one-third more calcium than chick’s eggs, five times the amount of stress-relieving B vitamins, three times as much iron, twice the amount of Vitamin A and folate, along with more protein, selenium, and potassium.
Down Side of Duck
Perhaps too much of a good thing, along with the large stand-up yolk comes a higher lipid or fat content than chicken eggs. So for the cholesterol-conscious duck eggs aren’t the best choice.
And since ducks aren’t as fruitful as chicks with seasonal laying habits (depending on the breed, many lay in the spring until early summer), this translates to a significantly higher cost.
The Shell Game
Duck egg shells won’t win a beauty contest, as they tend to be mottled, some with beige, pale blue or greenish tinges (also depending on the breed). But duck eggs will win the strong shell contest, thick and sturdy, they require a heftier hand to break. For this reason, they also have a longer shelf life than chick’s eggs, and can be kept up to six weeks in the fridge.
Let’s Get Cracking
Duck eggs have a rich, distinct flavor and texture, and require a little extra cooking time due to the largesse of the yolk. Ideal for baking, they yield fluffy and moist short cakes, breads and muffins, flakey, buttery pastries, and luxurious mousses, soufflés and crème brulees. Whip up a puffy prima vera frittata, goat cheese and spinach scramble, and seafood salads garnished with hard boiled or poached duck eggs. Cook’s tip: Use one duck egg for two chicken eggs.
Duck Eggs for Sale
If you look, you will find, particularly at natural food, Asian or farmers markets. You can order them on line all year at duckeggs.com, Metzer Farms in Gonzales, or as an add-in for customers subscribing to the shareholder delivery bags at Seabreeze Organic Farms in Carmel Valley (for a $1.50 each).
Duck Eggs in Cocotte
The Marine Room’s Executive Chef Bernard Guillas graciously shares his beloved grandma’s favorite duck egg recipe. Bon appétit!
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup diced pancetta
1 cup chopped leeks, white part only
1/2 cup sliced shallots
1/2 cup finely diced celery root
2 cups sliced local King oyster mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves
6 duck eggs
3/4 cup crème fraîche
1 tablespoon minced chives
1/4 cup grated Mimolette cheese (or aged Parmesan)
1 toasted French baguette
Method: Add olive oil to large skillet over medium heat. Add pancetta, leeks, shallots and celery root. Cook 3 minutes stirring often. Add mushrooms and thyme. Cook 2 minutes. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.
Step 2: Place one tablespoon of crème fraîche at the bottom of each mini cocotte or ovenproof 8-ounce ramekin. Equally divide the vegetable mixture in to each cocotte. Top with remaining crème fraîche. Carefully crack 1 duck egg in a small bowl without breaking the yolk. Transfer to cocotte atop of vegetables. Season with salt and pepper.
Step 3: Fill roasting pan with 1-1/2 inches of water. Water should go half way up the side of the mini cocotte. Bring water to simmer. Place each cocotte into pan. Cook 10-15 minutes or until egg whites are opaque. Remove cocottes from roasting pan. Garnish with chopped chives and Mimolette. Serve with baguette. (Serves 6.)