Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Good Egg, One Bad Egg, and the Ultimate Egg Sandwich

Eggs are a big deal on our farm.  We make a living by supplying farm meat, dairy products, veggies, and prepared meals to the members of our CSA.  The vast majority of them request a dozen eggs with their weekly order, so it is important for us to have healthy, happy chickens laying wholesome, delicious eggs on a consistent basis.  Unlike eggs from "Prison Chickens," Free Range eggs tend to have a bright yellow yolk due to the nutrients they are able to get as they forage along the pasture.  They are fresher and definitely taste better.  Eggs are a wonderful source of protein as well as 13 essential vitamins and minerals---and all for about 70 calories.  The Good Egg is the perfect food!

...but I digress!  

Eggs are important to the Farm, for reasons of both Nutrition and Finance.  The condition of the egg shell can often reveal information about the health of our flock and when an egg looks funny, it is time to check the gals closely to make sure that nothing is amiss.

See the egg in the middle?  The funny wrinkled one? What's up with THAT?
Nothing to worry about, in this case!  The ripples and wrinkles you see on the pointy end of the egg are indicative of an egg that has been "body checked."  This is typically seen with older hens and results when an egg has been damaged, and then repaired, during production.  It tastes just fine and is perfectly safe to eat.

We have about 85 laying hens, which means a whole lot of egg collecting.  There are eggs in the barns, eggs in the coop, eggs in the tool shed!  The biggest challenge we face is getting to the eggs before the dogs find them!  Egg collecting has also been impeded by the four broody hens who have taken up residence in the nesting boxes.  A broody hen is one who wants to sit on her eggs until they hatch, which takes 21 days.  Broody hens will steal eggs from under other chickens to increase the number of eggs in their clutch, which can get ridiculous.   Some will actually carry the egg in her beak or roll it a long way to the desired destination.  

Once they start sitting, broody hens will only leave for a few moments each day to eat and drink.  I decided to label the nests after The Farmer came into the kitchen one day thinking that he scored the Mother Lode of Egg Hauls.  Truth is, he had just swiped a broody mama's clutch while she was taking a two minute break to eat!   Yikes!  Can you imagine a CSA shareholder baking  with her child, cracking an egg and having a half formed chicken fall into the Brownies? 

It is important not to disturb a broody hen because she might decide that it isn't worth the trouble and will abandon the nest for good.   Our broody gals have been in some sort of competition to see which can sit on the most eggs....they flatten down their bodies and puff out their wings in a futile effort to keep 30 eggs incubated.  Once the babies start hatching they will be so busy chasing the little ones that many eggs will remain unhatched and will have been wasted!
Rosie Belle Farm Grilled Ham and Cheese 
One of my favorite comfort foods is a grilled ham and cheese and yesterday  I made a more grown up version using goat cheese and an easy Goat Cheese Mornay Sauce. It is fast and delicious...the best part is that almost every ingredient can be found in a Rosie Belle Farm CSA box!
Good Bread is the Start of a Great Sandwich!
Ingredients for 2 Servings
3 Tablespoons of Butter, plus more for pan
2 Tablespoons of All Purpose Flour
2 Cups of Milk
1 teaspoon of Salt
1/2 teaspoon of Pepper
1/2 teaspoon of Nutmeg
One Cup of Farm Goat Cheese
4 slices of White Bread
4 teaspoons of Dijon Mustard
6 slice of Cooked Pork Product of your choice...ham, bacon.  I used Collar Bacon, a leaner, sweeter cut.
2 large eggs

First, gather the ingredients to make the sauce.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan over moderately low heat.  The butter should NOT brown.  Whisk in the flour and stir constantly for three minutes or so.  Slowly whisk in the milk and bring to a boil, whisking the entire time so as not to scorch the milk.  Reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg and about 1/2 of the cheese and stir until melted and incorporated.  The goat cheese is not a super melty cheese and you might see pieces of goat cheese in the worries!  It will be delicious.  Remove from the heat.

Now for the Sandwich!  I am going to keep directions simple by building one sandwich.  Get two slices of bread.  One will be your Foundation Slice and the other will be the Top Slice.  Spread Mustard on the Foundation, then cover with a generous slather of Cheese Sauce.  Put half of the goat cheese on top of the sauce, reserving the rest for the second sandwich.  Add bacon/ham/pig part of choice on top of the goat cheese and finish off with another generous dollop of Cheese Sauce.  Repeat with the other Sandwich.

Preheat the broiler.
Heat up a frying pan and melt some butter.  Add the sandwiches and grill them on medium high heat until the Foundation slice is nice and brown.  Take the sandwiches out of the pan to melt a bit more butter and grill the other side.  Looking tasty, isn't it?  We aren't done yet!

Spread more sauce on the top of the sandwiches, put them on a cookie sheet, and put them under the broiler for two minutes or so.

While the sandwiches are in the broiler, fry up the eggs in the pan you used to grill the sandwiches.  They should be just about perfectly done when the cheese is melted and bubbly.  Slide the egg on top of the sandwich, grab a fork and a knife, and enjoy!
I just took a break to check on my broody hens...our first chick of the year has hatched!

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