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.
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.
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
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.
The good egg
From omelet to creamy lemon curd, farm fresh eggs rule
Homemade lemon curd (Bill Hogan, Chicago Tribune / March 23, 2010)