It’s March, which means spring is on the way! The weather might say otherwise, but the proof is in the snowdrops beginning to sprout and sunlight that lasts past 6 pm. This time of year, chickens respond to the change in light and temperature by laying more eggs. Hens require exposure to sunlight to produce eggs, so when daylight hours go below 14 in the winter, many hens stop laying until March, when they can lay up to one egg per day.
Local eggs can be found at Cronig’s, Blackwater Farm, Vineyard Grocer, the Larder, the Allen Farm, and Ghost Island Farm. Seven to eight dollars might seem like a lot to pay for a dozen eggs, but 60 cents an egg makes them one of the cheapest local sources of protein available. Free-range chickens that are allowed to forage for a variety of plants and bugs have eggs with deep yellow yolks that are rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. They also contain less fat and cholesterol than eggs from hens that are kept in cages.
Take a break from fried and scrambled eggs by trying a quiche or frittata for breakfast. Pack a hard-boiled egg in your lunch box for a snack, or mix whisked eggs into a stir-fry for a little additional protein. You can also try this month’s featured recipe, cured egg yolks. With a similar taste and texture to Parmesan cheese, they’re delicious shaved over salad or pasta dishes.
Cured Egg Yolks
Recipe by Gabrielle Chronister
4 large egg yolks
1¾ cup kosher salt
1½ cup sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
Combine the salt and sugar in a medium bowl and mix well. Spread ½ of the mixture in a small baking dish.
Using the back of a spoon, make 4 evenly spaced indentations in the salt mixture. Sprinkle some pepper into each indentation. Carefully place the egg yolks in each of the indentations, making sure no egg is sitting directly on the glass. Gently cover yolks completely with the remaining salt mixture. Seal lid on glass baking dish, or tightly cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for four days.
Preheat oven to 150-170° (whatever is the lowest setting on your oven). Remove egg yolks from the salt mixture. The yolks should now have a gummy-like texture. Gently brush the salt mixture off each yolk, and carefully rinse in cold water to remove excess salt. Discard remaining salt mixture.
Place yolks on a cooling rack (sprayed with nonstick spray) on top of a cookie sheet, and bake for 1.5 to 2 hours, until yolks are firm through. Turn off oven and let yolks remain in oven until completely cooled. Store yolks in the fridge in an airtight container.
Enjoy by grating or shaving them onto pasta, salad, crostini, roasted veggies, or on anything where you might use Parmesan cheese!