goose, chicken and tiny quail egg

Lots of egg talk because late last week I learned that it is currently egg season. In the spirit of local, seasonal and animal friendly (check out that article) Rémi and I headed out to the market Saturday morning to take advantage of what we'd learned. Not only was it an occasion for trying the enormous goose eggs sold by the cheese-people (the fromager, but whatever), but 18 tiny quail eggs, a 1/2 lb. of fresh butter with sea salt, one rich creamy cheese (whose name I've forgotten but who cares), some blood oranges, and a fresh loaf of crusty sourdough bread later, we had exhausted our brunch food fantasy list for the week. (Oh, and there was a melon. Mmmm, fresh, ripe melon.)

I spent a summer in Portugal not very long ago where I ate my fair share of quail eggs. I had first seen them in a restaurant served on a plate piled high with flor do sal and when I later found them in the grocery store it was hard boiled egg heaven for three months.

Tasty, light, and kinda classy with all those charming spots -- quail eggs, it would seem, are also a nutritional paradise. (I love nutritional paradises.) While they were most accessible price-wise during my Portugal days, quail eggs are worth the extra effort no matter what. They've got more vitamin A, B1, B2, iron and potassium (among other vitamins and minerals) than chicken eggs. And as nature is sometimes happy to preserve its own wonders, the nutritional value of these eggs doesn't even have to be compromised by cooking : Because the body temperature of quails is typically higher than chickens, you can eat them raw without fear of salmonella (but do give 'em a good 60 sec bath in boiling water first -- it won't cook the egg but it'll clean the outside).

Un goose oeuf à la coque

While I have been (and remain) relatively ignorant as to the nutritional values of a goose egg, I had been avoiding them for some time because of their eerie resemblance to those duck (goose ?) eggs that you find in some Chinese markets that get cooked with a fully-formed chick inside. (It's kind of cool and kind of really, very unsettling for a vegetarian to see.) I had understood the eggs to be fertilized and so, also being relatively ignorant as to the life-cycle of poultry, I told Rémi I wouldn't eat an egg that had been fertilized (in my mind, fertilized = potential bird popping out). "So you're pro-life ?"

But fertilized eggs, as it turns out, are not better for you (and tastier) but also remain very much in the range of vegetarianism. (This information is also thanks to that article.) Fertilized eggs come from female birds allowed to roam around freely with male birds -- for up to a month after [bow-chica-wow-wow], female birds continue to lay fertilize eggs which, unless they go immediately under a heat source (e.g. the body of a lady bird), will not produce chicks. This means healthier eggs (less cholesterol than unfertilized counter-parts), happier birds (because they're not only moving freely but getting laid) and still a highly-unlikely-to-produce-a-multi-celled-organism final product. Everyone wins.

quail eggs and pink salt
Most "suggested prep" for quail eggs I've seen calls for five minutes in boiling water -- but if you want to preserve that super soft, creamy yolk you shouldn't go any more than three minutes (note the use of bold typeface to stress that timing). Apparently you can also boil them in vinegar or a 1/2 & 1/2 vinegar, water mix which will make the shells softer and easier to peel (though, I've never had a problem with this and can only assume had-to-peel quail eggs are ones not eaten directly after cooking).

We also had the eggs dropped in a bowl of red lentil soup (carefully crack open the eggs with the aid of a knife and plop them directly in a bowl of hot, hot soup and delicately bury them a bit -- being careful not to break the yolk. Once the soup is cool enough to eat, the eggs are cooked.*)

The goose eggs, after a nice eight minute sauna (for the eggs**), were enjoyed à la coque (or soft boiled) as to not adulterate the flavors. (Though they were still compromised a bit from having large pieces of crusty, buttered bread dunked into them.)

And they were good ... pretty much. Goose eggs have a more subtle, slightly nutty flavor profile compared to fresh chicken eggs, and the yolk isn't as rich. There's even something that seems a bit rubbery in the texture. So, nice to try, but at a whopping 3€80 a pop we agreed that goose eggs are fun but we'd rather eat two chicken eggs in their place.

(Please, if I'm mistaken about this because of a set of not-hugely-fantastic eggs, let me know -- along with a recipe and/or address for a better place to try them).

goose eggs

Anyway -- use your legs, go get some eggs. As always, comments and ideas from other hungry people welcome here. ^^

*They're cooked 'enough' -- this isn't a suggested preparation for people who prefer eggs cooked through.

**The timing is the same if you drop 'em in boiling water. I prefer steaming eggs in the rice cooker because it's an easier clean-up and it's less likely that they'll break.

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