Chef Kristen Boye explains why farm fresh eggs are a wiser choice than organic or cage free eggs, and offers creative recipes to enjoy them.
As I sit here writing this I am faced with the challenge of using up four dozen eggs in my fridge…with another two dozen coming next week.
Do we keep chickens?
No. As much as I love the sustainable food movement, I’m kind of a wuss when it comes to keeping animals.
We’re just crazy about fresh, local, organic, pasture-raised farm eggs -- and when we find a steady source it’s hard to turn down a dozen (or two…or three) here or there.
I am okay with this, because the health benefits of eating local farm eggs from pastured, free-range, organic chickens are immense for my family, the world’s chicken population and the environment.
Eggs from mainstream grocery stores, even the “organic” or “free-range” varieties, are usually produced in dirty, confined, factory-farm-style settings. And the labeling on eggs is misleading.
- “Cage-free” means the hens aren’t raised in battery cages and can spread their wings, lay their eggs in a nest, and walk around inside. But according to this article by the Humane Society, cage-free doesn’t necessarily equate to cruelty-free, and the hens may be subject to debeaking and starvation-induced-molting.
- “Free range” chickens are likely to have limited access to a small screened-in cement porch for a few hours a day. The hens generally don’t use the porches because they don’t provide them the soft ground they need to behave like chickens—to scratch, peck, and forage for worms and insects…so why bother?
- “Organic” eggs may come from these same hens except they are fed organic non-GMO food. Better for us…but not so much for the hens.
- “Pastured” or ”Pasture-raised” hens are raised as real chickens, out in the sunshine with full-time access to the grass, worms, and insects they love. These farm eggs are available at some grocery stores, but they cost from $5 to as much as $12 per-dozen.
I get mine direct-from-the-farmer for $2 to $4 a dozen, so I just can’t turn them down.
If you love local, pasture-raised farm eggs like I do, or if you plan to raise your own chickens, you can bet you will have TONS of fresh eggs to use up.
And you can bet your family will tire of omelets and smoked salmon scrambles pretty fast.
Here are 9 creative ways to use eggs up without burning yourself out
1. Blender hollandaise
Hollandaise is a delicious, versatile, and nutritious sauce to add to your repertoire. Great for breakfast, but also delicious as a substitute for cream or cheese-based sauces on vegetables.
Yet, due to its labor-intensive reputation, most of us don’t even attempt to make it at home.
Even as a chef, I found the traditional technique to be more trouble than it was worth except on very special occasions.
Then, I came across this recipe for Olive Oil Hollandaise from Chef Michael Chiarello and everything I loathed about making hollandaise changed.
He uses half olive oil, half regular melted butter (no clarifying), and does the whole thing in the blender.
I’ve made this recipe numerous times now. It’s a wonderful use for local farm eggs, the family loves it, and it’s easy enough to make on a week night.
2. Spaghetti carbonara
If your family loves fettuccini alfredo, spaghetti carbonara will be a new favorite.
This fast and fresh pasta dish is made with a cream-free egg-yolk-based-sauce that gently cooks with the pasta and crispy bacon. I like to toss in some fresh chopped spinach or kale, peas, and sundried tomatoes for added nutrients.
This recipe from the New York Times is a good one, but once you get the sauce-to-pasta-ratio down you can customize the dish and make it your own. It’s also a smart way to “hide” eggs for children who normally don’t care for them.
3. Quick, easy, and nutritious baked custards
I try not to give my daughter a lot of sweets, but I feel good about making up these baked custards for her now and then. We use pasture-raised whole milk, cream, and nutritious egg yolks.
We like to make these together (she’s 2), so I’ve made the recipe really simple and easy.
Easy and Nutritious Baked Custard
Yield: 4-5 individual custards
1 cup organic whole milk
1 cup organic heavy cream
¼ cup coconut sugar
5 egg yolks
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Boil the kettle (you will use the hot water to make a water bath for the custards in step 5).
Combine all ingredients together in a blender and blend to combine (or use a bowl and an emersion blender, or a bowl and a whisk works fine).
Pour the mixture into individual custard cups or ramekins.
Place custard cups or ramekins in a roasting pan or lasagna pan, and fill the pan at least halfway with hot water from the kettle (this creates an easy water bath).
Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a knife inserted into the custard comes out clean.
Cool completely and enjoy.
4. Make your own fresh egg pasta (fun for the kids and grown-ups)!
Making noodles is a FUN, FUN, FUN family activity for a rainy day and an easy way to use up some of those eggs.
You don’t need a pasta maker, but it makes it easier. If you don’t have one, just use a rolling pin to roll out the pasta dough thin, roll it up like a burrito, and cut it into ribbons. Don’t stress over “perfection”, fun is the name of the game. Keep it rustic, relaxed, and real.
Here’s a basic recipe demo for homemade egg noodles in a stand mixer from allrecipes.com. You can either cook these in hot water or add them directly to a yummy chicken broth for soup.
* Tip, make a double-batch. These will be a huge hit.
5. Grain-free muffins, pancakes, and waffles
First we were told to “eat more whole grain”, then the gluten-free diet became trendy, now (as odd as it may seem) many health experts, including the founders of the popular Paleo diet, are recommending we cut down or eliminate grains from our diets.
Though I believe properly prepared whole grains have a place at my family’s table, as a natural foods chef and health writer I’ve been drawn to experiment with some of these new grain-free recipes. And they’re actually quite good.
They also call for a LOT of eggs, which sings to my 4-dozen-egg-dilemma these days.
If you’ve never experimented with grain-free baking before, I’d recommend trying out these grain-free banana bread muffins from Wellnessmama.com. They’re super-easy to make and always turn out great. Once you’ve mastered these you can move on to grain-free pancakes, waffles, cakes, and any other baked good your heart desires.
6. Spanish tortilla
I had the opportunity to travel to Spain a few years back with my husband, and we absolutely LOVED the simplicity and flavor of the nation’s most famous egg dish, Tortilla.
You can add whatever you like to the basic recipe (herbs, greens, etc), but take the time to do it right and PLEASE don’t skimp on the Spanish olive oil…it’s crucial.
Do crepes sound too intimidating to make at home?
They’re NOT. Throw flour, eggs, salt, and milk, in a blender. Zoom zoom. Let the batter rest a bit. Make a few thin pancakes and you’re done.
Contrary to popular belief, you do NOT need a special crepe pan, a simple non-stick omelet pan will do just fine.
Kids LOVE crepe night and it can be a creative way to use leftover meats and vegetables (think French burritos) or create a quick, low-sugar dessert with fresh berries and cream.
Once you get the hang of it it’s almost a meditative process…especially when practiced in the true French culinary style…whilst sipping a glass (or two) of good wine.
Oh, and make a double-batch…they freeze beautifully, defrost in a snap, and are ready-when-you-need-them.
8. Homemade French vanilla ice cream
In my mind, no ice cream in the WORLD compares to homemade French vanilla. There’s just nothing on the store shelves that even comes close.
What makes it sooo good? It’s the abundance of egg yolks. The yolks give the ice cream that signature yellow color and ultra-velvety, soothing custard-like texture.
Give it a try…but beware, once you taste homemade any store brand bearing the “French vanilla” name will taste like an insult.
9. Simple, fresh, mayo-free egg salad
Egg salad may not seem like a super creative recipe, but I felt compelled to share this one from my Chilean mother-in-law.
The food in Chile is always so fresh it needs very little adornments and I feel this recipe captures that essence.
She would always make it for my husband as a child, and he taught me how to do it. I don’t usually care for egg salad, but I really do like this one.
The recipe is so simple. Just hard boil 2 eggs, peel, mash them with about a tablespoon of fruity olive oil, add salt, pepper, some fresh parsley or chives if you like, and make a sandwich.
No mayo, no relish, just simple, fast, and good real food.
If your kids have shunned egg salad before, they may actually appreciate the simple flavor and texture of this easy week-day lunch.
There you have it! Nine creative ways to use up the several dozen eggs you’re sure to acquire in your rural quest for divine food.
How do you use up eggs? Do you have a favorite creative egg dish to share?
Let’s swap recipes in the comments section below.
And for more helpful information on decoding meat and egg labels, please visit the Environmental Working Group.
Are you dreaming of setting up a homestead and raising your own chickens? View rural land for sale throughout the South on Rethink:Rural's parent company's website at RaydientPlaces.com.