Everything you need to know about eggs that don't come from a chicken
Chicken eggs make for a quick and easy meal, morning, noon and night. They're an essential ingredient in dishes both sweet and savory, but sometimes... well, sometimes they're just a little bit boring.
Luckily there's a whole world of eggs out there just waiting to be enjoyed. Once you get these basics down, you can say goodbye to chicken eggs (at least for a little while).
Duck eggs, while more expensive than conventionally raised chickens (they take more feed, lay fewer eggs and are harder to raise on an industrial scale), are also richer in nutrients. Duck eggs have more protein, calcium, iron and potassium than chicken eggs do, and a slightly thicker shell. However, they also have more fat and cholesterol. Duck eggs are also popular in many Asian cuisines. They're very similar to chicken eggs, so duck eggs are a great first step in trying new kinds of eggs.
Taste: Very similar to chicken, though more intense. Some say this is because ducks eat a higher protein diet (including snails, bugs and slugs) than grain-fed chickens do.
Texture: The white of a duck egg is completely transparent, and the yolk is bigger in relation to the white than in a chicken egg. This means they are considerably richer than chicken eggs, which can be a boon to your general cooking, though it may take some experimenting if you want to use duck eggs in your baking.
Volume: Duck eggs are approximately the same size as chicken eggs, though they have larger yolks and less whites.
Can they be subbed for chicken eggs? When it comes to scrambled, boiled, poached, baked (in a frittata) or fried, you can pretty much use a duck egg in the same manner as a chicken egg. It's in baked goods that you need to be careful. The larger yolk size means duck eggs have more fat and protein than chicken eggs do, which can affect the overall chemistry of a baked good. However, many bakers like the way duck eggs make their treats richer and loftier, so they're worth trying out.
Quail eggs may take a while to peel, but the extra work is worth it, and they make up for it with their super-quick cooking times. Quail eggs also make a nice visual impact. Try using them in appetizers or as an ingredient in a special salad. Cacio e pepe would be extra decadent with a few fried quail eggs on top, don't you think?
Taste: Quail eggs basically taste like chicken eggs.
Texture: Very similar to chicken eggs, though they have a larger yolk-to-white proportion.
Volume: It takes five to six quail eggs to make one chicken egg.
Can they be subbed for chicken eggs? Sort of. Quail eggs can be boiled, fried, poached, etc. Basically anything you can do with chicken eggs you can do with quail eggs. But you would need a ton of quail eggs to make an omelet, so they tend to work best as an appetizer or garnish. You can use them in baking too, but again, their small size makes it more of a hassle than it's probably worth, especially since their flavor is so similar to chicken eggs anyway.
Goose eggs are hard to come by, but you may be able to find them at a farmers market or even by calling up a local farmer who raises ducks. Goose eggs are larger than chicken eggs and have quite a hard shell. You may need to use a mallet or other tool to break into it, but what's life without a little adventure in the kitchen anyway?
Taste: Most geese are foragers, and their protein-rich diet means their yolks tend to be more flavorful and richer than chicken eggs'.
Texture: Goose eggs are quite rich, with a creamy, moist yolk. Their whites contain less moisture than chicken eggs', though, so be careful of overcooking them, or they can become rubbery.
Volume: One goose egg is roughly the size of two to three chicken eggs.
Can they be subbed for chicken eggs? For the most part, yes. Goose eggs work well in simple preparations, where they can really be appreciated, and they are known to make delicious fresh pasta. Goose eggs, with their large yolks, make baked goods dense and rich, but sometimes too much so — adding extra chicken egg whites can help achieve balance. It's also good to know that a large chicken egg weighs 2 ounces. To swap that for goose egg when baking, crack the goose eggs, lightly whisk them, then weigh. Use 2 ounces of goose egg for every large chicken egg called for in your recipe.
Ostrich eggs are positively enormous. In fact, they're the largest egg of any bird on Earth. They make quite a showstopping Easter centerpiece, and their shells are used to make art. Ostrich eggs are quite hard to get a hold of in the U.S. — contacting a farm that raises ostriches for meat is probably your best bet.
Taste: Ostrich eggs taste similar to chicken eggs, though they can be a bit more intensely flavored — some would even say gamy.
Texture: Ostrich eggs are similar in texture to chicken eggs, though they don't get quite as firm when cooked.
Volume: One ostrich egg is the equivalent to about two dozen chicken eggs. That's a lot of egg!
Can they be subbed for chicken eggs? Yes, mostly. You can scramble ostrich eggs or use them in a frittata or quiche just like you would regular chicken eggs; you'll just have a lot more egg to work with. Technically you can fry and boil ostrich eggs, but you'll need a really big pan and have to be patient. An ostrich egg can take a full hour and a half until it's fully hard-boiled. Ostrich eggs can be used in baking too — just whisk the whole thing together, and use 2 ounces of ostrich egg for every chicken egg called for in the recipe.
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