By: Kayla Butts, MS, RDN, LD Photos by: Rachel Benavides
While many markets suffered through the pandemic of 2020, one outlet saw a marked uptick in sales: urban-raised hens. With families “scrambling” to find grocery staples, many consumers determined to become more self-sufficient decided to put their own eggs in their basket. Hatcheries saw record-breaking profits and quickly sold out of popular breeds, as more Americans decided to start a backyard coop of their own.
It’s no wonder chicken husbandry has become the preferred homestead pastime. Not only a great learning opportunity for youngsters and an endless source of social media content, backyard chickens (or quail or ducks!) also produce a valuable kitchen commodity: eggs. Eggs are one of the most versatile proteins available; they can be boiled, scrambled, fried, poached, hashed, or whipped. Eggs act as emulsifiers, leavening agents, flavor and moisture additives – you name it. The bonus: eggs produced on a pastured diet are higher in heart-healthy, omega-3 fatty acids, so you can feel good while you’re noshing on deviled eggs.
Despite the lows of the last year and a half, there have been some good eggs. We have become more self-reliant, finding more inventive ways for everything, from business practices to putting dinner on the table. Maybe crowing roosters and cleaning up the coop aren’t for you, but then again, maybe they are! Nevertheless, here are three delicious recipes with eggs as the main ingredient.
Thinking about getting hens of your own? Here are some five roost-tested tips to get you started:
1. Hens are sociable animals and do best in a small covey. We recommend 5-8 hens for the typical backyard coop.
2. A backyard coop on wheels offers hens fresh forage, while fertilizing the backyard. Move your hens to fresh grass every 2-3 days to cut down on your feed and pest control bills.
3. There is a wide range of chicken breeds to choose from, but many are more ornamental than prolific. We’ve found the best egg producers that do well in our hot, humid summers are: Rhode Island (Production) • Reds Americanas • Buff Orphingtons • Leghorns • Easter Egger • Barred Plymouth Rock • Sumatra
4. Purchase day old chicks at a local feed store, or from an online hatchery. Crate chicks in a non-drafty pen lined with aspen bedding. Chicks thrive on an endless supply of starter crumbles and clean water supplemented with vitamins/electrolytes.
5. Once they are six months old, hens need a comfortable box to nest in supplied with fresh hay and a sturdy branch or dowel secured at eye level to roost on at night.
Caesar Salad Dressing
Prep time: 10 minutes
5 anchovy fillets, drained
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 egg yolks
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup parmigiana reggiano
Combine ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Apply dressing to romaine lettuce and top with parmigiana reggiano shavings and croutons.
Bacon Leek Tart
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup butter, cubed
4-6 tbsp ice-cold water
1/2 lb thick-cut bacon, chopped
2 tbsp butter
2 leeks, peeled, rinsed, and chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 large eggs
2 oz goat cheese
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp thyme
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup white cheddar, shredded
Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor and pulse to mix. Add in cubed butter and pulse for 10 seconds, until mixture resembles oatmeal consistency. Add 4 tbsp of water and pulse to combine. Dough is done when it easily comes together without falling back apart. Add additional water, one tablespoon at a time, if necessary until a smooth dough is formed. Form into a disk and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30-45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Remove dough from the refrigerator and roll out to 1/4” thickness on a floured surface. Transfer to a fluted tart pan or pie pan and decorate edges as desired. Prick dough across surface with a fork or weigh down with pie weights. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack.
Cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon. Discard all but about two tablespoons bacon grease and add butter and leeks. Sauté leeks until golden and transparent, about 5-7 minutes.
Combine remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until combined. Stir in reserved bacon and leeks. Pour mixture into the prepared crust. Bake 30 minutes, or until filling is set.
Makes 3-4 six-ounce souffles
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
3 large eggs, separated
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
3 tbsp granulated sugar, plus 1 more for dusting ramekins
4 oz high-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 tbsp unsalted butter, plus 1 tbsp softened butter for greasing ramekins
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 400°F. Move oven rack to bottom shelf. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed for 2-3 minutes, or until soft peaks form. Slowly add in sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, continuing to whisk until stiff peaks form.
Heat butter and chocolate in a large microwaveable bowl in 20-second intervals, stopping to stir, for about a minute total, or until completely melted. While letting the chocolate cool, prepare ramekins by greasing the bottom and sides with softened butter and sprinkling with a generous dusting of granulated sugar. Transfer ramekins to a baking sheet.
Whisk egg yolks, vanilla, and salt into melted chocolate. Gently fold egg whites into chocolate mixture, being careful not to overmix or deflate. Spoon mixture into prepared ramekins and place in preheated oven. Immediately reduce the temperature to 375°F. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the edges are set and the center has risen well above the top of the ramekin rim. Serve immediately with powdered sugar and fresh raspberries.