go to basket

Late Spring at Anson Mills

May 2013

Rhode Island Red hens at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture

With these eggs . . .

We’ll all have some pie in a minute. But first we offer an apologist’s nod to the egg and its mother. What a completely miraculous little primogenitor, the egg, yet how utterly taken for granted! To be lauded one decade, maligned the next. And its mother! How fortunate the fate of some hens, how dreary the fate of others. If you were a chicken cooped up in a filthy, overcrowded apartment with nothing to eat but junk, how great would your eggs be?

Now imagine yourself as a hen pecking around the grounds of a country estate surrounded by lush pasture and unending dining delights. You’re well exercised and well fed. Stress free. How great would your eggs be now? They’d have beautiful red-orange yolks and high-standing, clear, bright whites.

It is the honest pasture life and short-stream rapid distribution network that separates great fresh eggs from “fowl.” And if there are trending national pastimes, backyard chickens and their fabulous fresh eggs certainly fall into the top ten. The point is this: outstanding eggs are easy to find—and they don’t cost a fortune, either.

Key Lime and Chocolate Cream Pies

To say that Key lime and chocolate cream pie fillings showcase eggs is an understatement. The fine, lofting foam of the former’s meringue and the plush satiny filling of both pies, depend—indeed rely—on egg quality and performance. The fathers of French cuisine all concede their debt to the brilliantly simple egg. In fact, one of the five great mother sauces is made with beaten egg yolks emulsified with warm butter. We call it “hollandaise.” Mayonnaise is the same deal with oil. What do fish mousseline and chocolate mousse have in common? Crème anglaise and crème brûlée? Pâte à chou and oeufs à la neige? Dacquoise and pavlova? Sabayon and spätzle? Quiche and flan? Avgolemono and egg drop? Not to overdrive the point, but eggs can both clarify a liquid and thicken it. Nogs, sours, and fizzes all rely on eggs for their luxurious textures. Are we done here?

Not so fast.

Graham Pâte Sucrée

Every great pie needs a great crust. From colonial days forward, early summer in the South has celebrated the harvest of May wheat, named in honor of the month it ripens. Some of the best graham flour was made from Red May wheat, which we are harvesting, not incidentally, right now! For these two American icebox pies, we built a different kind of graham crust—a graham crust without the crackers. And wow, what a crust! Deeply nutty, crisp beyond shatter, sweet new crop graham wheat flavors, and the beguiling flecks of caramel crunchy bran. This crust is so rivetingly good, we might do an entire summer of pies with this crust. You wouldn’t mind, would you?

Let’s have some pie, already!

Here’s to chickens, eggs, and pie, y’all—and Good Food!