Super-sized seasonal eggs with a rich and creamy yolk
Eggs have been associated with Easter since long before we began using the holiday as an excuse to devour our bodyweight in chocolate. A traditional symbol of life and fertility, in Christianity the egg represents the empty tomb following the resurrection of Jesus on what’s celebrated as Easter Sunday. But beyond the symbolic, there’s little to associate fresh eggs with this time of year—except, that is, in the case of goose eggs. “They’re very seasonal,” explains Lizzie Vines of Wild Beef, who sources them from a neighbour, Williams Farm, down in Devon. “Geese only lay during the spring and once they stop, that’s it. They’ll only be around until about the end of May.”
“Goose eggs are one of the few prized, truly seasonal products we have—and they taste incredible because of that,” adds regular demonstration chef Lesley Holdship. “We’re used to having eggs all year round, so it’s a wonderful thing.” The other obvious difference between goose eggs and the more familiar hen’s eggs is their size: “They are about one and a half to two times as big,” Lesley continues—and what lies within is a yolk-lover’s dream. “There is a much higher ratio of yolk to white and the albumen is quite firm once cooked, due to its higher protein content, meaning the yolk stays lovely and creamy. It’s richer, too, as the yolks have a much higher fat content than that of hen’s eggs—but that’s what makes it taste so good!”
Its superior size does, however, have implications in the kitchen. “It takes longer to cook—I would boil a goose egg for about six to six-and-a-half minutes to ensure a nice runny yolk. Or if you’re poaching it, do it for about four-and-a-half to five minutes,” Lesley advises.
Crusty dipping bread
“Wild garlic is also around at the moment and I love making a little ragu with it, wilting it into some sautéed bacon and onion, adding a touch of cream and then serving it with a goose egg on top—they’re amazing fried for a little bit of crispiness. Then when you break into it, the beautiful yolk spills out and mixes with the wild garlic and the bacon,” she says dreamily. “It’s also really nice to bake them en cocotte.” Break the egg into a ramekin then add cream, a grating of parmesan, a twist of pepper and sprinkling of salt, and bake for around 20 minutes, “depending on the size of the egg,” says Lesley. “Serve that with some lovely crusty bread, or even melba toast, to dip into it—delicious.”
The properties of goose eggs also lend themselves particularly well to baking. “You might think you wouldn’t want to waste the flavour by baking with them, but they really do create amazing cakes,” Lesley enthuses. “They souffle really well, which means you get a better rise, and the rich yolk gives the mixture an incredibly silky texture, resulting in a lighter finish”—though do remember they can’t be used like for like. “One goose egg is more than a hen’s. It’s probably best to weigh it, so it’s equal to the flour and the sugar.
“Because they have that souffle action, they also make incredible omelettes. Whisk the egg yolks with cheese and a bit of cream, then whisk the egg whites until they make stiff peaks. Fold them into the yolk mixture, then cook exactly as you would usually.” Alternatively, make it without the cheese and put jam in the middle for a sweet treat. “The end result is beautiful—incredibly light and delicious.”