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They say that the truest test of skill for a classically trained French chef is to prepare a perfect egg — and the same should be the case for the home cook. If you’ve already mastered the hen’s egg, it might be time to step it up a level with larger, richer duck eggs. Higher in both protein and fat than those from our farmyard friends, duck eggs have been intriguing the culinary world of late. I first tried one several years ago in California, where a coddled duck egg could be added to your steak or french fries. They’re still a rarity on Vancouver menus, but with perseverance you can find them at select supermarkets, specialty grocers, and farms. (See “Around Town,” below.) Look for small or medium-sized eggs, and use them for baking or making pasta — or for simple fried perfection, as in this recipe.
Fried Duck Egg With Sautéd Mushrooms
1 tbsp duck fat or butter
1 duck egg
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil (plus more to drizzle over bread)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 handfuls chanterelle mushrooms
2 sprigs parsley, stems removed, coarsely chopped
sea salt and pepper to taste
4 slices ciabatta
On a medium setting, heat the fat or butter in a pan until bubbly, then add the egg and fry gently until the yolk sets, 4 to 5 minutes. (For larger eggs, you may need to add 1 tbsp of water and cover to lightly steam, or cook a little longer.) Remove the egg from the pan and allow to rest while you sauté the mushrooms (or cook both at the same time in separate pans).
For the mushrooms, add the butter and olive oil to a pan over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. (Be sure the garlic doesn’t burn.) Add the mushrooms, and sauté 3 to 4 minutes, until softened and slightly browned, and remove from heat. Toss in parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle the ciabatta slices with additional olive oil and grill. Place the mushrooms on a serving plate with the egg in the middle (or arrange them in a cast-iron pan) and serve with the grilled bread. Serves 2 to 4 as an appetizer.
Find duck eggs at T & T Supermarket (various locations; Tnt-supermarket.com), Southlands Farm (6767 Balaclava St., 604-261-1295; Southlandsfarms.com), or, occasionally, at Wheelhouse Seafood and Specialty Meats (2605 E. Hastings St., 604-215-5562)