A food review by Daniel B.
In Miami, everyone has a swimming pool. Well, almost everyone. Growing up, I had some friends who instead of a pool had a duck pond in their back yard. They hatched mallard and wood ducks from eggs. And they did the same with pheasants.
Luckily at the time I was unaware of just how good pheasant eggs are to eat. Otherwise, they may have had a few less birds.
There is an easier way to get your hands on less conventional eggs. Drive to Quattro’s Game Farm and Farm Store in Dutchess County. They sell eggs from pheasants, ducks, turkeys, chickens and geese. Recently I was lucky enough to get my hands on some of their pheasant and turkey eggs, and have had my eyes opened to the wonderful diversity of this miracle in a shell.
In some ways building a meal with eggs, is like building with anything else. You need to have the right tool for the job.
While there are lots of eggs out there, unless a recipe specifies otherwise, the word egg refers to a large chicken egg. Egg size is important because when doing things like baking, the volume of liquid is critical.
In fancy food circles one comes across a lot of quail eggs. They are small and dainty things, which are perfect for small and dainty plates. But they are a little precious. Pheasant eggs on the other hand are diminutive, but they pack a punch. For something so small they have a remarkably large yolk.
Why these aren’t seen more often is unfortunate.
Take a spring staple like grilled asparagus. Topping it with a quail egg is just cruel, because there is barely enough yolk to make the exercise worthwhile. On the other hand, topping it with a chicken egg can overwhelm the vegetable. A fried pheasant egg would be perfect.
Quattro’s turkey egg is still a bit of a mystery for me. It’s a bit larger than a conventional chicken egg, and it too has a greater ratio of yolk to white than standard supermarket variety. Remarkably turkey eggs taste virtually identical to chicken eggs, and Bill Niman agrees. It seems like such a crime to take something like this and scramble it up into an extra rich omelet. Frying it is fine, but it’s a little ungainly. Instead, this would be an ideal candidate for soft-boiling and eating with toast soldiers (read more about fresh turkey eggs).
A soft-boiled chicken egg is comforting treat, but one never quite feels like a meal. Not only would these larger turkey eggs be more satisfying, but you would get the added pleasure of enjoying its speckled shell at the table. Plus its generous yolk is ideal for dipping.
But Quattro’s isn’t just for eggs. They also have smoked meats, and they turn some of their pheasants into pheasant sausages. Maybe this is wrong, but I couldn’t resist frying up some of the sausage and topping it with a fried pheasant egg. At home I put this double pheasant meal on top of a garlicky white bean puree enriched with chicken broth. But there’s no reason it couldn’t have been pheasant broth. It was a quick, easy and delicious weeknight supper.
I’ve got to get into this store and get some more eggs, because now I’m totally hooked.
A west coast transplant now living in Albany, Daniel Berman is applying his communication strategy background to food writing with the ultimate goal of improving the culinary landscape in the Capital Region. He writes the FUSSYlittleBLOG and contributes regularly to All Over Albany.