Next time you crack open an egg, ask yourself one question: Why aren’t you using a duck egg?
Though they’re still hard to find here in 417-land, duck eggs are starting to make an appearance at local restaurants and at farmers’ markets, and there are plenty of reasons why you should give these Willy Wonka–sized eggs a try. For starters, they pack a richer flavor than your regular chicken egg. Second, according to researchers, duck eggs are loaded with extra protein (of course that bump comes with a hike in calories and cholesterol as well). Third, one duck egg is the equivalent of 1.5 chicken eggs, which makes them especially handy when baking. To get the not-so-skinny scoop on the latest egg to fly the coop, we turned to chef Wesley Johnson of Metropolitan Farmer.
Johnson has been using duck eggs at the restaurant since it opened nearly two years ago. From savory egg schmear salads to veggie egg hash, duck eggs have managed to find their way onto Metropolitan Farmer’s menu practically year-round.
“Duck eggs, especially domestic duck eggs, have a tendency to be richer in flavor and cleaner in taste,” he says. And when it comes to baking, those extra-large egg whites come in handy. “The white can whip higher and with more volume than a standard chicken egg,” Johnson says. “That extra fluff gives your baking a better result.” Fluffier whites, richer yolks, what could be better? Except this: Did you know people who are allergic to chicken eggs can usually handle duck eggs? It’s true, and it’s another reason why James Boosey, one of the owners of Blue Heron Farm (Mansfield, 417-425-4264) started raising ducks.
According to Boosey, there are two primary breeds of ducks that are good egg layers: the Indian runner duck, which can lay up to 180 eggs a year, and the Khaki Campbell duck, which lays 300 eggs a year. And because ducks are scavengers and will eat almost anything, their diet can affect the flavor of their eggs.
“I compare it to wine,” Boosey says. “Take a single variety like a merlot, and it tastes like the grape, but if you have a blend it has a more complex flavor. But take that further. Depending on where it’s grown, the flavor of the grape changes.” Because Boosey’s ducks are all free-range, they have a diverse diet. They will eat any bug they can catch, including flies and bees, and they sift through pond weeds and vegetation looking for grub.
As for what to do with duck eggs. It couldn’t be easier. Use them just like you would chicken eggs. Boosey enjoys them fried, poached, hard boiled, soft boiled, you name it. Just look for Blue Heron Farm next time you’re at Farmers Market of the Ozarks on Saturday mornings, and you can try duck eggs for yourself.