Have you ever eaten eggs you plucked yourself from beneath a chicken? This was a first for me. See those eggs in that bowl above still clinging to some straw and dirt from the chicken coop? I snatched them from beneath Jane, a Wyandotte hen owned by a friend of mine.
My friend, whom I shall refer to as chicken lady since she’s violating our borough laws by keeping hens in her yard (We wouldn’t want the chicken cops to come after her, now would we?) has eight hens in total – three Wyandottes, three Red Stars, and two Plymouth Rocks. Look at them scurry in their pen – running around like, well . . . like “chickens with their heads cut off.”They’re all scurrying except Jane, who prefers to sit inside the wooden chicken coop “broody as a hen,” sitting on eggs – not just hers, but everybody else’s. The other chickens put all “their eggs in her basket,” climbing into her box to lay their eggs and have her sit on them. Talk about the maternal instinct! I felt like a “tough old bird” reaching in and taking those eggs away from her. But I did it anyhow, knowing she’d just be sitting on more the next day. Jane was truly a “good egg.” During the summer, the chickens produce between five to eight eggs daily, not exactly “chicken feed.” Speaking of which, they are fed nothing but organic feed and vegetables that chicken lady would otherwise compost. They have room to roam in the sunlight too, something that’s “rare as hen’s teeth” in commercial egg production. So you know these eggs have got to be healthier than what you buy at the store. I wanted to honor these eggs properly by making a dish that really gives them top billing. So I made a dish inspired by The Barefoot Contessa’s “herbed baked eggs.” I changed it, omitting the cream, but adding a few dabs of ricotta cheese and pieces of tomato, in addition to the herbs and parmesan cheese. Be careful when broiling if you like your eggs runny. They’ll need only a few minutes under the broiler, which you should preheat to get really hot before putting in the casseroles. Since we’ve got an “empty nest,” (hey, I’m no “spring chicken”) I used only four eggs for the two of us. Herb-Baked Eggs
For each person, drop two eggs in a buttered small casserole dish. Add 1/2 of a fresh red tomato, cut into bits. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, dot with a tablespoon of butter, a couple of dabs of ricotta cheese, a couple of tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese and chopped herbs. I used freshly chopped thyme, oregano, chives and parsley. Place under a preheated broiler for two or three minutes.
This could be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. We ate it for dinner, along with some garlic bread fresh out of the oven and a green salad. But have it any time of day you or whoever “rules your roost” wants it.
P.S. I hope I don’t have too much “egg on my face” after all these “fowl” expressions. But it is interesting how all these chicken terms have “come home to roost” in our vocabulary.