What came first, the quail or the egg? While this age-old riddle does indeed feature the chicken, which plays a much more prominent role in the culinary realm, this week I wanted to focus some attention on the quail.
I felt inspired by a stunning carton of small speckled quail eggs sold by Lily’s Eggs this time of year. These are an item I don’t work with too often in the kitchen, but I work with these eggs for a fun little bite when they’re available.
What are the major differences between chicken and quail eggs? The most obvious is with regards to size, with quail eggs about a third as big of its counterpart. Quail eggs are also recognized by their cream shells with an abundance of brown speckles.
Chicken eggs are most commonly a single color, which may include brown, white, green and even blue.
Nutritionally speaking, quail eggs do pack a bigger punch, primarily due to their higher ratio of yolk to white. By weight, quail eggs are a richer source of protein, vitamin B-12, iron and riboflavin.
When it comes to flavor, quail and chicken eggs are quite similar although quail eggs tend to deliver a slightly richer presence due to the higher yolk-to-white ratio.
Finally, quail eggs cook much faster, with the typical hard-boil taking about 3-4 minutes, while a chicken egg is hard-boiled just under 9 minutes.
Quail eggs can be used culinarily in most cases as you would chicken eggs. It just takes a lot more eggs (and expense) when doing your basic scramble or omelet.
To crack the shell of hard-boiled quail eggs, roll them with a light amount of pressure on a cutting board.
This week I prepared an avocado toast topped with sunny side up quail eggs and a quick fresh bruschetta.
AVOCADO TOMATO WITH QUAIL EGGS AND BRUSCHETTA
2 San Marzano or Roma style tomatoes, seeds and membrane discarded and diced small.
1 garlic clove, very finely diced.
1 teaspoon olive oil.
2-3 large Italian basil leaves.
Salt to taste.
2 pieces of sourdough toast, about 1/4 inch thick, drizzled with olive oil and toasted,
1 ripe avocado.
6 quail eggs.
2 tablespoons butter.
Fresh cracked pepper.
Aged balsamic vinegar.
To make the bruschetta, combine tomato, garlic, olive oil, basil leaves and toss together. Season with salt to taste and refrigerate until ready to use. Spread your toasted bread with avocado. Add butter to a pan at medium heat to coat the bottom, and crack in eggs.
Cook for a couple of minutes, or until desired consistency is reached. If you prefer an over-easy egg, just flip and turn off heat immediately. Then remove your eggs from the pan and place on the avocado toast. Finish by topping with your bruschetta mixture. Yield: Serves 2.