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October 11, 2007

Eggs (Recipe: albornia de chayote) {vegetarian, gluten-free}

The last of three posts for my friend Peter, an American chef who's running a beautiful inn and restaurant in the mountains of Minas Gerais, in southeastern Brazil. I'm revisiting some favorite posts this week on The Perfect Pantry, featuring recipes that he might adapt to local ingredients.

Eggs

A few years ago, while working on a magazine article (never finished) about "designer eggs" (never found them), I interviewed a woman in our town who's  both a licensed veterinarian and a holistic practitioner. I needed a chicken refresher course, and she invited me to her farm for a lesson in which-came-first.

Of all the things she told me, the one I remember is this: you can tell what color an egg will be by checking the ear lobes of the chicken.

I'm not kidding.

White ear lobes, white eggs. Brown-ish ear lobes, brown eggs.

Anyone who's lived in New England knows the famous advertising jingle: "Brown eggs are local eggs, and local eggs are fresh!" But if, as they say, you're not from here, you might not know that brown eggs are the norm in this part of the country, thanks primarily to our very own state bird, the Rhode Island Red — a brown hen, with brown ear lobes.

Eggs have been called a "perfect" food. According to the Egg Nutrition Center, eggs contain almost every essential vitamin and mineral needed by humans except Vitamin C. Eggs have a biological value (efficacy with which protein is used for growth) of 93.7%, compared with 84.5% for milk, 76% for fish, and 74.3% for beef, and they are especially rich in the antioxidant lutein.

Nutrition claims aside, for cooks eggs are a perfect food. Without them, we'd have no frittata, no torta espanol, no soufflé. No brunch, come to think of it, without omelets, eggs Benedict, French toast. No egg salad sandwiches. No Spit in the Ocean (my dad's specialty).

My favorite Country Hen eggs, from nearby Massachusetts, are laid by chickens fed an organic diet high in Omega-3. These chickens have a very happy life, housed in barns with natural sunlight, no cages, and porches. When you crack the eggs, the deep yellow yolks sit up straight and tall. Yes, they are twice the price of supermarket eggs that have been refrigerated for days or weeks and trucked in from who-knows-where, but I can see and taste the difference.

And, they have a beautiful, irresistible, George Hamilton tan.

Albornia de chayote

Chayote, also known as mirliton, is a pale green, almost pear-shaped squash, with a dimple on the bottom. It's available in my local grocery store, and in markets serving Latino communities. Popular in the southern US and the Caribbean, chayote has a mild flavor and good texture. If this vegetable is new to you, try it in scrambled eggs. Serves 6.

Ingredients

2 green chayote squash, quartered, pith removed, and diced (do not peel)
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 yellow pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
2 Tbsp sofrito (storebought or homemade)
7 eggs

Directions

Bring 2 cups of water to the boil in a saucepan. Add the chayote, and boil uncovered for 30 minutes until the chayote is cooked through. Drain and set aside.  In a large frying pan, heat sofrito, and stir in peppers and onion. Sauté, stirring often, 3-4 minutes over medium-high heat. Add the chayote, and cook 1 minute. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and stir into the vegetable mixture. Reduce heat to low, and stir constantly until the eggs are cooked, approximately 4-5 minutes.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]


More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Frittata ring
Matzoh brei
Frittata with broccoli and garden herbs
Cheesy omeletta

Comments

Looks mighty good. I love to buy foody products on Restaurant.com, HomeBistro.com stores at couponalbum.com..

in Cuba they call eggs "miracle food". it´s´the only readily available protein they cook with day to day. But even if you have meat and fish, I still find them pretty miraculous too.

Hey...I love your blog! I just found it. Those eggs get extra points for the packaging too.

I'm sorry, hold on one cotton pickin' minute.
Chickens have EARLOBES?
shut UP! That's amazing!!
I'll never look at a hen the same way again. Thank you for that amazing bit of arcana!

Ooh interesting, I haven't had experience with brown eggs. Is there anything different about them in terms of cooking? It seems there isn't but as you can imagine, those unfamiliar with brown eggs would find that a question worth asking :)

I am posting something on eggs soon :) ...what a coincidence. I like your description on eggs...about designer eggs and that George Hamilton tan. What makes brown eggs, brown; and white eggs, white? Genes or food? I heard both stories before.

I love eggs! When I tried being vegan, I dreamed about them every night! I loved reading that post--I'll never look at a chicken now with thinking about it's earlobes. And I think the Rhode Island Red must be the most famous type of chicken. I remember first hearing about it when I was a kid.

Glen, thanks for the source information.

Lobster, I love that -- miracle food! I absolutely love eggs.

Rebekka, welcome to The Perfect Pantry. So glad you found your way here.

Ann, I swear it's true. Kinda makes you want to run around checking chickens' ear lobes, doesn't it?!

Hillary, brown eggs cook exactly the same way as white eggs (only the shells are brown -- the rest of the egg is not!). I never had brown eggs until my first visit to New England, many years ago. Now that I live here, brown eggs are the norm.

Tigerfish, I think it's genes that determine the color. Different breeds lay different color eggs. I'll watch for your post.

Sher, I think it's eggs -- and cheese, I guess -- that would keep me from being vegan, too. We're proud of our Rhode Island Red chickens here (and, for those who are asking, no, they are not red. Well, they're brownish-red, I guess.). A few years ago, one of the local historical societies even put out a CD of chicken songs, to raise funds for a restoration project!

I think eggs are amazing and lately I have moved exclusively to brown eggs. Last year in Italy, I noted that the egg yolks were a stunning deep orange, directly related to the type of grains fed to the chickens.

Ha! I don't remember the last time I heard the brown egg jingle! I chuckled when I read it. :) What an interesting recipe. I love chayote and you've given me an easy, flavorful dish to try. Thanks, Lydia!

Oh so many interesting things to read about eggs~thanks for all the info....and the great recipe. I love having brown eggs. When I think about it, I really do noy remember if they tasted differently from the white...do they?

TW, have you changed to brown eggs because they are local? That's the reason we eat them here in RI. At the farm stands, though, we also get blue eggs -- blue on the outside!

Susan, I'd never tasted chayote until I began writing about food, and a woman whose family was from Puerto Rico cooked a dish like this one for me. I also make a chayote salad that is quite delicious. (and now that "brown eggs" jingle will be playing in your head, won't it?)

Jann, to me they don't taste any different, except for freshness in this part of the country. We just have a preponderance of Rhode Island Red hens here, and their eggs are brown.

very interesting info!!! Before I thought (actually imagined) white-feather chickens laid white eggs, brown-feather laid brown ones...*lol*
Amd most important, at least for the sake of animal's well-being, organic & cage free... thrumb up!

We don't have white eggs here - at least, never that I've seen. When I see them now in the U.S. I always do a double-take! I had been told it was the color of the chicken...didn't know it was the earlobes...didn't know chickens had earlobes...

Gattina, these are happy chickens indeed, and I also believe that it makes a big difference in the taste. I'm becoming a bit of an egg snob, I guess!

Katie, believe me, I didn't know that chickens had earlobes, either. The veterinarian who gave me my chicken lesson was appalled at how little I knew about chickens.

Wow I didn't know that about chicken earlobes and that they even had earlobes! Those eggs look delish!

I was going to mention the Aracana (blue) eggs but you're way ahead, Lydia! I do sell some local eggs when the chickens are laying (from my 'egg ladies'), and one customer kept picking her eggs to get the color blue (sort of a heavenly aqua) that she wanted to paint her kitchen, so she could take the shells to the paint store.

I didn't know chickens had earlobes either!

Amy, the chicken earlobe thing is one of the strangest tidbits I've learned about my pantry!

Susan, isn't that supposedly how Martha Stewart came up with the colors in her line of house paints? You've got to admit that the blues of those eggshells are gorgeous (but the earlobes of the chickens are brown).

Kelly, and now we all know!

Oh, Lydia, I never knew birds had ear lobes. :)

I love eggs and will have them anyway, any time!

Thanks for the update on earlobes. I found Aracana photos and couldn't see a blue earlobe anywhere. The exception that proves the rule.

Patricia, same here, I love eggs for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Susan, thank goodness genetic engineering hasn't yet given us chickens with blue earlobes...

I am so intrigued by the ear lobe > egg correlation, we get blue eggs sometimes... I wonder if they have blue ears!

Kelly-Jane, blue eggs, brown ear lobes, according to our local vet. But if you ever see a blue-eared chicken, let me know!

I wouldn't know where to look! :)

I was telling hubby about this and I think he thought I'd gone bananas, but my Mum was more openminded! ;)I think it's amazing :)

Kelly-Jane, I'm giggling....

Thanks for the great recipe! My family will surely love this.

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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