Every month, Melina Hammer, Food52's very own Hudson Valley correspondent, is serving up all the bounty that upstate New York has to offer.
Duck eggs are a special delight. Sometimes I am lucky enough to gather a few from my neighbor’s birds. Other occasions, I score a half or full dozen at my local food co-op, or at the farmers market here in the Hudson Valley. However I find duck eggs, I covet them.
Most often I incorporate this ingredient into special occasions, whether as skillet egg dishes for our Catbird Cottage B&B guests, or added in to especially luscious baked goods. Living at the intersection of various farms and homesteads here upstate, I am fortunate to have relatively easy access to these wonderful eggs.
Wherever you live, duck eggs will likely be pricier than chicken eggs, in part because they’re not as widely available. Expect to pay $6 to $12 per dozen. Farmers markets are the best places to find them, but these days an increasing number of specialty markets, food co-ops, and higher end grocery stores stock them too. I have even seen them at good butcher shops. Ask around.
If you haven’t tried them before, many characteristics make them unique. Duck eggs are more muscular than chicken eggs: The whites have less water content, which gives them more body and substance. The yolks are creamier and substantially larger, sitting tall like golden orbs, inviting all kinds of magic-to-come.
Because duck eggs also contain more fat and protein, they are an excellent choice for baking. That means fluffier cakes, higher loft to meringues, more structure to breads, and more sumptuous, silky custards. To substitute duck eggs in baking recipes, experiment by trying two for every three chicken eggs to account for their size difference.
Duck eggs also stay fresher longer, in part due to their thicker shells. The theory is, since ducks are aquatic birds, the eggs need to survive both water and mud, depending on where they are laid. This also means there is a small learning curve to cracking them successfully. Just give an egg a good thwack on your counter surface to blunt the shell, and you should be able to free the egg intact.
Now you can put it toward tomatoey spaghetti. Or turn it into the creamiest crème brûlée of your life. Sky's the limit!