Another Easter has passed and, still, my thoughts turn to eggs. Lately, I’ve been thinking mostly about eggs from pasture raised hens. The kind of eggs laid by chickens that spend their days outside, in the sunlight, eating insects, worms, grubs, and grass. It turns out that if chickens, like other animals raised for their meat, are allowed to eat as nature intended, they produce meat, or in this case eggs, that are nutritionally dense and sublimely delicious.
Pasture raised eggs have little in common with factory grown eggs. This is evident as soon as you crack one open. The yolks from pastured poultry are bright orange and the whites have an almost gelatinous quality to them. Nutritionally, pastured eggs are superior in every way. They have less cholesterol, less saturated fat, yet many times more vitamin E, beta caratene, and omega-3 fatty acids. The hens’ exposure to sunlight allow their bodies to manufacture vitamin D which is passed through to the eggs. The differences become even more striking when you cook with them. When gently poached, cooked in the shell, or fried, the yolks turn to decadent, custard-like orbs that can elevate anything they are paired with. Even with such attributes, eggs may be one of the most under appreciated foods in America. Sure, we love them for breakfast and they may wind up between two slices of bread at lunchtime, but they are seldom considered worthy of our attention at dinnertime. For me, eggs may be the most inexpensive luxury item there is. The best raised eggs that money can buy can be had for under $.60 each. And perhaps no other food could be a more flattering partner to your $2000 a pound Italian white truffles! And so many other ways to exploit them: a simple omelet seasoned with nothing more than finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano is ridiculously simple yet delicious and satisfying, a fried or poached egg with steamed asparagus and drizzled with brown butter, poached eggs over creamy polenta with a simple tomato sauce and grated parmesan, grilled bread rubbed with garlic and topped with braised greens, a poached egg and a splash of good olive oil….
You can find St John Family Farms eggs from pastured poultry locally at Taylor’s Market and The Sacramento Natural Food Co-op. Also available locally are excellent cage free eggs from Vega Farms. Stop in for breakfast at any Cafe Bernardo and have them cooked to your liking. They are also available for purchase at the Sacramento Certified Farmer’s Market.
Posted on 04/07/2010 at 12:00:00 AM