Robin stopped by the newspaper office Monday with cartons of eggs her hens had laid. The eggs are larger than anything I find in the store. They are fresher. And some of the eggs have green shells. They are almost too beautiful to break.
When we lived in New England, we bought brown eggs, which are typical for that region. My first encounter with green-shelled eggs was in Taos, at a friend’s backyard farm, and now, through Robin, who stops on occasion.
The chickens that produce the green-shelled eggs are Ameraucanas, a hybrid of a South American chicken, the Araucana. She says the birds’ feathers are hawk-like in color. The shell’s coloring doesn’t come from anything they eat. Ameraucanas produce the color naturally.
I am not a big fan of chickens. When I was a child my grandfather, Manuel, kept hundreds of them in his small farm on our street. I accompanied him inside the chicken yards, walking among a flocks of white chickens to get to their nests. Was I scared? Of course.
My grandfather brought the eggs he collected to house’s cellar. Working near the coal-fired furnace, he cleaned the shells with steel wool and weighed them on a scale to size them. He kept the smallest for the family.
(By the way, I have since met backyard chickens that are perfectly likable.)
The carton I bought Tuesday for $3 was half-filled with green-shelled eggs. Robin says not everyone likes the green-shelled eggs. They tell her they look weird. I disagree.
So how do these eggs cook? The yolk is buoyant, probably because the eggs are fresher than store-bought. Robin says she has found as many as three yolks in a green-shelled egg. When I used them to bake a vanilla cake recently, the batter was a bright yellow. Golden, I would say.
So what is my favorite egg dish? Huevos rancheros. An egg or two, cooked sunny-side up, served beside hash browns and pinto beans, and over corn tortillas. Smother them with a sauce of green chile and maybe a bit of grated cheese. The trick is to keep everything hot — but not overcooked — until the dish is assembled on the plate.