The good egg

From omelet to creamy lemon curd, farm fresh eggs rule


Homemade lemon curd (Bill Hogan, Chicago Tribune / March 23, 2010)

Recently I met a chicken. She was the fluffy, pecking, chatty sort of chicken, keen on her afternoon snack of fresh thyme and stale graham cracker. I believe she said her name was Clark. Though, to be honest, I'm not sure I could distinguish her from her 23 compatriot Clarks. I admired her wholesome style, her sturdy coop and her warm nesting box, complete with wholesome, sturdy, warm egg. Which I picked up, admired and stole.

I did pay for the egg. But not in any way Clark might have appreciated.

I rinsed and dried and packed a dozen of the treasures home. I was surprised to learn, from my chicken-tending friend Laura, that the fresh-from-the-source egg needs no refrigeration. I arranged my collection in a ceramic bowl, still-life style.

Then I cracked one into the frying pan.

I staged a taste test, pitting farm-fresh against grocery store against convenience-case egg. Clark's egg ruled. Her white gleamed glossier and her yolk glistened brighter than the competition. Her egg offered a shockingly complex taste, richly flavored and free of that icky undertone I can only describe as, well, eggy. I felt like driving back to the farm and offering Clark and her crowd an extra helping of corn mash. She was doing some great work out there.

I tried to honor Clark's efforts. All week I whipped and scrambled. I constructed the airy omelet, the tall souffle, the creamy lemon curd. Ceramic bowl empty, I placed a frantic call to the coop. Laura said Clark was in, and happy to handle a refill. Which didn't surprise me. That chicken is a good egg.

Leah Eskin is a Tribune special contributor.

Lemon curd

Prep: 10 minutes Cook: 7 minutes Makes: 2 cups

7 or 8 small Meyer lemons (or substitute 5 lemons and 1 orange)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut up

2 tablespoons whipping cream

4 eggs

Squeeze: Zest 2 lemons and cast the strips into a large heavy saucepan. Squeeze fruit and measure out 3/4 cup juice. Add juice to the pan along with remaining ingredients.

Whisk: Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thick, 7 minutes. Press through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Chill, if you like.

Serve: Enjoy warm or cold over fresh berries, pound cake or just about anything else.

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