The Good Egg
Anyone who’s ever kept chickens knows they are far more than egg laying machines, as Matt Golinski discovers.
Chooks have complex social structures and distinctly different personalities depending on where they sit in the ‘pecking order’ of the flock. They become members of the family, speak to a chook owner and they will get quite emotional about their ‘girls’. And those beloved feathered pets pull their weight – turning food scraps into contributions of highly nutritious, delicious, golden-yolked ovum.
For those of us who don’t have the space or time to be tending a coop, the next best way to get access to those fresh, bright, tasty eggs that you know were laid by chickens living their best life, is to choose ‘pastured free range’ producers, and we’re lucky enough to be spoilt for choice here in Noosa.
Piggy in the Middle, Forage Farms, Sandy Creek Farm, Walker Farm and Eumundi Egg and Feather are just some of the local farms which employ a rotational method of production, using mobile ‘chicken tractors’, meaning the birds are always on a fresh patch of grass, are free to forage and dust bath and are never locked up, day or night.
Anyone who loves to cook, whether it’s making omelettes or sponge cakes, crepes or pavlovas, knows how important it is to start with good eggs. Freshness is paramount, especially when poaching.
As an egg ages, the yolk absorbs water from the white making it thin and runny and much more likely to fall apart when dropped into boiling water. Older egg whites don’t whip as easily and are far less stable and collapse more easily.
A simple check for freshness is to pop them into a bowl of water – if they stand on their end or float it’s because they have a larger air sack which means they’re older.
Smaller producers tend to turn over their product more quickly, so you’re more likely to be working with freshness.
The quality of the feed the chickens are given is also important as this affects not just the colour and flavour but the physiology of the egg and the overall health of the chicken.
That is the priority that all of these farms have in common, to ensure their birds are healthy (both mentally and physically), treated humanely and with respect, to supply a quality product to the community and to improve, rather than deplete, the land they are working on.
This edition I have chosen three recipes that rely on making sure you source that ‘good egg’ for a cracking result (see over).
For stockists of the producers mentioned do a quick search online.